U.S. Stockpiles Fall, Oil Prices Pare Gains

Oil prices minimized some gains on Wednesday after government data showed U.S. crude stocks fell less than expected last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories surged.

Crude futures earlier climbed 3% as the extension of U.S.-China talks in Beijing raised hopes that the world’s two largest economies would resolve their trade standoff.

Data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed commercial crude inventories fell by 1.7 million barrels in the last week, compared with analysts’ expectations for an decrease of 2.8 million barrels.

EIA also said gasoline stocks rose by 8.1 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations for a 3.4-million-barrel gain. Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, jumped by 10.6 million barrels, more than five times the expected 1.9-million-barrel increase.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $50.86 U.S. per barrel mid-morning Wednesday, up $1.08, or 2.2%, the first time this year that WTI has topped $50.

International Brent crude futures were up $1.13, or 1.9%, at $59.85 U.S. per barrel.