For the second straight week US crude oil stocks have unexpectedly risen as shown in data from the US Energy Information Administration, gaining 614,000 barrels last week versus analysts’ forecasts of a decline of 2.1 million barrels.
At the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures, inventories rose 172,000 barrels, the EIA said.
U.S. crude futures settled 29 US cents, or 0.5 per cent, lower at $US53.77 a barrel while Brent crude fell 8 cents, or 0.1 per cent, to $US56.14 a barrel.
Traded volumes were thin, with many investors away for year-end holidays. Front month U.S. distillate and gasoline futures expire on Friday, which could add to price swings, analysts noted.