Crude oil prices fell sharply on Wednesday, weighed down by data showing a sharp increase in gasoline inventories in the week ended December 2nd.
Recession worries hurt markets after top U.S. banks warned of a recession in 2023 and China reported weak trade balance figures for November.
Oil prices found some support earlier in the day thanks to the Chinese government announcing some relaxation in Covid restrictions. Beijing relaxed rules which included allowing infected people with mild symptoms to quarantine at home and dropping testing for people traveling domestically.
West Texas Intermediate Crude futures for January ended lower by $2.24 or about 3% at $72.01 a barrel, losing for the fourth consecutive session.
Brent crude futures settled at $77.11 a barrel today, down $2.18 or about 2.8%, from the previous close.
Data from Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed crude inventories fell by 5.187 million barrels last week, as against an expected decline of about 3.305 million barrels.
The data also showed gasoline inventories rose by 5.320 million barrels in the week, beating expectations for a build of 2.707 million barrels. Distillate stockpiles increased by 6.159 million barrels last week, as against expectations for an increase of 2.208 million barrels.