REUTERS

Oil prices dropped on Wednesday on a surprise gain in crude oil inventories in the United States and as investors continued to worry about demand for fuel being squeezed amid tighter lockdowns in Europe to counter the coronavirus pandemic.

Brent crude futures fell 11 cents, or 0.2%, to $50.65 a barrel at 0421 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 9 cents, or 0.2%, to $47.53 a barrel, as reported by Reuters.

Crude inventories swelled by 2 million barrels in the week to December 11 to about 495 million barrels, according to industry group API.

Read alsoGas imports to be minimizedAnalysts had expected a draw of 1.9 million barrels, according to a Reuters poll. Official government data was scheduled for Wednesday.

The rollout of vaccines this month to combat the coronavirus pandemic will not quickly reverse the destruction wrought on global oil demand, International Energy Agency (IEA) warned on Tuesday.

The IEA revised down its estimates for oil demand this year by 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) and for next year by 170,000 bpd, citing scarce jet fuel use as fewer people travel by air.

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