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Crude Oil Prices Settle Nearly 3% Lower After EIA Reports Large Gasoline Build – Crude oil prices settled lower on Wednesday after data showing crude stockpiles fell for the third straight week failed to offset a larger-than-expected build in gasoline supplies.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for January delivery fell 2.88% to settle at $55.96 a barrel, while on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent lost 2.6% to trade at $61.22 a barrel.

Crude oil prices came under pressure after a mostly bearish Energy Information Agency (EIA) inventory report showed crude stockpiles fell more-than-estimated, but inventories of both gasoline and distillates rose more-than-expected.

Inventories of U.S. crude fell by roughly 5.6 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 2, beating expectations of a draw of 3.4 million barrels.

Gasoline inventories – one of the products that crude is refined into – rose by 6.8 million barrels, well above expectations for rise of 1.7 million barrels, while supplies of distillate – the class of fuels that includes diesel and heating oil – rose by about 1.7 million barrels, above expectations for a draw of 967,000 barrels.

Market participants noted that while it was not uncommon for gasoline stockpiles to expand in the December period, the massive build in supplies pointed to possible weakness in gasoline demand.

The unexpected rise in product inventories comes against the backdrop of bullish sentiment on oil prices following OPEC's decision last week to extend the output agreement through 2018.

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