Oil Falls on Surprise Build in US Crude Stocks

Oil Falls on Surprise Build in US Crude StocksOil Falls on Surprise Build in US Crude Stocks

Oil prices fell on Wednesday due to an unexpected increase in US crude stocks that revived worries about the supply glut that has capped prices for the past two years.

Global benchmark Brent crude was down 62 cents, or 1.2%, at $49.34 a barrel, after touching an intraday low of $49.07. US West Texas Intermediate crude was down 91 cents, or 1.9%, at $47.19 a barrel. Earlier in the session, the contract fell as low as $47.05, Reuters reported.

"API [data] showed a big build last week and that supported the quick turnaround in sentiment," said Ole Hansen, Saxo Bank's head of commodities research.

Industry data from the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday that US crude inventories had risen by 4.5 million barrels in the week ending Aug. 19. Analysts had expected a 455,000-barrel fall.

Analysts and traders are skeptical that producers will come to an agreement at a meeting in Algeria scheduled for Sept. 26-28, as various OPEC members have their own agendas.

"There is currently a race to print any freeze headlines but we have not yet seen strong substance behind them," said Olivier Jakob, managing director of PetroMatrix in Switzerland.

China's state-controlled oil firm CNOOC also said on Wednesday an oil price recovery was facing "significant headwinds", as it reported swinging to a loss in the first half of the year due to weak prices.

Concerns that Chinese crude demand could falter as Beijing clamps down on alleged tax evasion in the oil industry also weighed on prices in overnight trading.