Oil closed lower on Wednesday after U.S. gasoline stocks rose more than expected, compounding negative sentiment after worldwide falls in equities that helped drag fuel prices to 6-1/2-year lows.
U.S. crude stocks fell sharply last week as imports tumbled, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose despite a reduction in refinery runs, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
The draw in crude stocks had largely been anticipated but the gasoline build had not been factored into prices, analysts and traders said.
"Plummeting gasoline seems to be a drag on crude oil prices," said Carsten Fritsch, senior oil analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, Germany.
"This is due to rising gasoline stocks, despite sharply lower gasoline production," Fritsch added.