Brent oil prices fell on Wednesday and U.S. crude pared gains after a massive build in U.S. gasoline and diesel inventories fed into bearish sentiment brought oil prices close to 12-year lows.
Both contracts saw intra-day highs of more than $1 above Tuesday's closing price on upbeat Chinese economic data earlier in the session.
By 2:30 p.m., Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 63 cents at $30.22 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) settled at $30.48, up 4 cents, or 0.13 percent. Brent also broke below $30 for the first time since April 2004.
Data showing that crude inventories rose 234,000 barrels last week, much less than expectations, was overshadowed by reported builds of 8.4 million barrels in gasoline and over 6 million in distillates, which includes diesel and heating oil.
Ultra-low sulfur diesel was trading at lows going back to 1994 following the report.
"Overall, it's a bearish report. I think today's inventory report is all about products...The long awaited massive decline in crude production is not starting again," said Dominic Chirichella, senior partner at Energy Management Institute in New York.