Oil prices were volatile on Wednesday as government data showing a large U.S. crude inventory build surprised traders the morning after an industry group had reported a draw.
The U.S. government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) said crude inventories in the country rose by 3.1 million barrels last week, versus a 2.2 million-barrel build expected by analysts in a Reuters survey.
Just on Tuesday preliminary inventory data by the American Petroleum Institute had suggested a drawdown of 1.2 million barrels. Oil prices slid after the EIA report.
The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark for U.S. crude closed down 72 cents, or 1.5 percent, at $47.81 a barrel, after rising more than $1 earlier. Brent, the global crude benchmark, was down 60 cents at $51.30 a barrel, wiping out earlier gains.