Crude ends lower on inventory rise, reserves talk

Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:43pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Crude futures fell on Wednesday as a jump in crude inventories in the United States and the prospect of a release of U.S. and some European strategic reserves sent oil prices into retreat.

U.S. crude stocks rose by 7.1 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said, more than forecast. <EIA/S>

Gasoline inventories declined by a more-than-expected 3.54 million barrels and distillate stocks fell 700,000 barrels.

Ahead of weekly reports on U.S. oil inventories, crude stocks were expected to have risen 2.6 million barrels last week, a Reuters survey of analysts showed.

Distillate inventories were expected to be down 100,000 barrels, while gasoline stocks were forecast to be down 1.3 million barrels.

The prospect of a release of strategic oil reserves from the United States and some European nations also pressured oil.

France is in contact with Britain and the United States on a possible release of strategic oil stocks to push fuel prices down, Le Monde daily said, citing presidential sources.

A White House official reiterated that the United States was considering a reserve release but no decisions had been made.

"As we have said repeatedly, while this is an option that remains on the table, no decisions have been made and no specific actions have been proposed," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.   Continued...

A motorist holds a fuel pump at a Gulf petrol station in London in this April 18, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/Files