The price of oil dropped to a six-month low amid concern about Europe’s debt crisis. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude fell 80 cents to end the day at $93.98 per barrel in New York. Oil hasn’t finished this low since Dec. 19.
The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose 6.6 million barrels last week while analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted an increase of 1.5 million barrels.
Inventories of gasoline fell 2.6 million barrels last week while distillates tumbled 1.6 million barrels, the API said.
“Oil prices remained under pressure as euro area politics continued to be in focus,” Barclays Bank said in a commentary.
“Speculation that Greece may exit the single currency caused European stocks, peripheral euro area bonds, the euro and commodities to sell off,” it added.
The oil market “has to be convinced that Germany’s sudden economic recovery will be sustainable in a world where Greece and France seem to want to move towards economic self-destruction,” Phil Flynn at PFG Best said.
Tom Bentz at BNP Paribas warned that geopolitical tensions over Iran’s suspected nuclear program could drive oil prices higher again later this month when world powers resume talks on the issue.
The Eurozone itself registered zero growth, narrowly avoiding recession after a 0.3-per cent contraction in the last quarter of 2011, according to official data from statistics agency Eurostat.