Crude oil prices rose but backed away from multi-year highs on Wednesday after U.S. government data showed an increase in fuel inventories and a falloff in refining activity.
A broad, global market rally, including stocks, has also been fueling investment into crude oil futures, but analysts warned of possible overheating.
U.S. crude inventories fell 4.9 million barrels last week, more than the 3.9-million decline forecast, but bigger-than-expected builds in gasoline and fuel stocks offset that drawdown, the Energy Information Administration reported.
The market was also bolstered modestly by data showing a sharp decline in U.S. production last week that analysts say could have been the result of extreme cold temperatures across the United States to start the year.
"The lower draw in crude oil stocks, combined with the strong builds in product stocks is bearish news for prices. But market participants could also use the sharp drop in production as an excuse to buy," said Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, Germany.