Oil prices fell to a fresh March low on Wednesday after a surge in U.S. gasoline stockpiles as the summer season, the country's biggest demand period for motor fuels, nears its end.
U.S. crude for September delivery closed down 59 cents, at $45.15 a barrel—its lowest since March 19. September Brent crude futures were flat at $49.50 a barrel after hitting a fresh six-month low earlier in the session.
U.S. crude stocks fell last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose, data from the Energy Information Administration showed Wednesday.
Crude inventories fell by 4.4 million barrels in the last week, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 1.5 million barrels.
EIA also reported Wednesday U.S. refiners ran at their highest rates last week since 2005. The utilization rate for U.S. refiners was 96.1 percent, the highest since August 2005.
Growing oversupply, slowing demand from China and the prospect of crude flooding onto the market from Iran after Tehran's deal with the West over its nuclear program have knocked 21 percent off the oil price this quarter.