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US oil flat after Fed taper; stockpile build weighs

U.S. crude oil futures fell on Wednesday after government data showed a hefty build in crude inventories, but losses were curtailed by a larger-than-expected stocks draw in distillates, the third in as many weeks, spurred by severely cold weather.

U.S. oil stocks rose by 6.4 million barrels, including a 237,000-barrel build at Cushing, Oklahoma, where the U.S. oil futures benchmark contract is priced, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed. Temperatures in the U.S. Midwest and heavily populated Northeast have hovered at or below the freezing mark for several weeks, driving up demand for heating fuels.

Brent crude oil rose moderately, supported by Middle East supply concerns. Spillover attacks from the civil war in Syria have hindered development of Iraq's gas and oil reserves and a major pipeline to the Mediterranean has been blown up dozens of times, Iraq's top energy official said on Tuesday.

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Brent crude was up by 30 cents to trade under $108 per barrel. U.S. oil ended down 5 cents at $97.36, after settling at its highest since Dec. 31.

Brent has declined 3 percent this month following three straight months of gains. U.S. oil has lost 1.3 percent this month, but that follows a steep gain of 6 percent in December, the largest since July.

Crude was little moved by news the Federal Reserve had extended its tapering of monetary stimulus by an additional $10 billion a month.


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