Oil Prices Tank as Crude Jumps 1.9m Barrels

Prices for petroleum reversed gains on Wednesday, as official government figures showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose last week, contradicting an earlier report showing a drop.

Data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed commercial crude inventories rose by 1.9 million barrels to 420.3 million in the week through Feb. 2.

That was lower than the roughly three-million-barrel increase analysts anticipated in a pair of surveys. But data on Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute had shown a decline of 1.1 million barrels, setting market expectations for a drop after the previous week's big rise.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 95 cents, or 1.5%, to $63.66 a barrel by mid-morning Wednesday. The contract hit a nearly one-month low and was trading down 4.6% this week.

Brent crude futures were down 46 cents to $66.40 a barrel. The contract is 3.2% for the week.

EIA data also showed that gasoline stocks rose by 3.4 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for a 459,000-barrel gain. Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, were up by 3.9 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.4 million-barrel drop.

The EIA figures on Wednesday also showed weekly U.S. production hit 10.25 million barrels a day. The rise above the 10-million-barrel mark was hinted at by last week's report that November output rose above that level for the first time since 1970.