US crude settles down $1.28, at $55.84 per barrel

Oil jack pumps are pictured in the Kern River oil field in Bakersfield, Calif.
Jonathan Alcorn | Reuters
Oil jack pumps are pictured in the Kern River oil field in Bakersfield, Calif.

U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly surged last week as imports jumped and refineries maintained output, while gasoline and distillate inventories also rose sharply, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.

Crude stocks rose by 7.3 million barrels in the last week, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 2.3 million barrels. U.S. crude imports rose last week by 1.174 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude prices settled down $1.28 at $55.84 per barrel, after ending $1.86 higher in the previous session.

Brent for February delivery dropped $1.30 to $60, after settling up $1.58 on Tuesday.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 973,000 barrels, EIA said.

A supply glut in the United States and elsewhere has helped push oil down some 46 percent since it reached this year's peak above $115 per barrel in June.

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The dollar index stayed close to its highest since April 2006 after a revised third-quarter U.S. gross domestic product report blew past expectations to register the fastest pace of growth in 11 years.

A strong dollar makes commodities priced in the greenback expensive for holders of other currencies.