LONDON: Oil prices slid Wednesday on news that US commercial crude reserves rose unexpectedly last week, sparking jitters over the global supply glut.
“US inventories saw another surprise build, adding to concerns of oversupply,” noted CMC Markets analyst Jasper Lawler.
At about 1600 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery slid 83 cents to $41.94 per barrel.
Brent North crude for October lost 77 cents to $44.21 a barrel compared with Tuesday’s close.
The US government’s Department of Energy reported that commercial crude stockpiles climbed 1.1m barrels in the week to August 5. That confounded market expectations for a drop of 1.5m barrels, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg News.
Rising stockpiles indicate weaker demand in the world’s top oil consumer, and tend to push prices lower.
The increase was however far less than the 2.1m-barrel gain given by industry body the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday.
Oil prices have been fluctuating since entering a “bear” market last week, falling more than 20 per cent and closing below $40 a barrel for the first time since April.