US oil prices fall on 10th straight inventories build

Rainwater from Hurricane Harvey surrounds oil refinery storage tanks in this aerial photograph taken above Texas City, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017. Unprecedented flooding from the Category 4 storm that slammed into the state's coast last week, sending gasoline prices surging as oil refineries shut, may also set a record for rainfall in the contiguous U.S., the weather service said Tuesday. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Rainwater from Hurricane Harvey surrounds oil refinery storage tanks in this aerial photograph taken above Texas City, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017. Unprecedented flooding from the Category 4 storm that slammed into the state's coast last week, sending gasoline prices surging as oil refineries shut, may also set a record for rainfall in the contiguous U.S., the weather service said Tuesday. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

The U.S. oil benchmark fell below $51 a barrel Wednesday morning after the federal government reported that crude stockpiles rose for the 10th consecutive week.

Commercial crude oil inventories in the U.S. jumped by another 3.6 million barrels, pushing crude stocks 7 percent above the five-year average. However, gasoline stocks fell by about 800,000 barrels, although the storage levels are still about 5 percent above average.

The rising crude inventory levels coupled with record-high U.S. oil production of 11.7 million barrels a day, according to the U.S. Energy Department, has helped send oil prices from above $75 a barrel in early October down to almost $50 per barrel.

Total petroleum stocks rose by 2.4 million barrels.

Market observers are now focusing on the Dec. 6 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to see if the cartel and possibly others like Russia agree to some level of production cuts to help balance supply and demand and to stabilize falling oil prices. Thus far, OPEC’s biggest player, Saudi Arabia, has balked at acting alone on output reductions.

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