Concerns about global oil demand on Wednesday trumped a U.S. Department of Energy report that stockpiles of oil and gasoline were down last week.
Crude oil for December delivery fell $1.90 to settle at $80.44 Wednesday as traders anticipated China's pending actions to rein in inflation. China is expected to raise interest rates to in an effort to stabilize rising prices, and the country's government on Wednesday emphasized its focus on boosting the availability of oil and other commodities.
The DOE's Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that U.S. commercial crude oil stocks fell by 2 percent as of November 12, 2010, to 357.6 million barrels. Last week's 7.3 million-barrel decline marked the second straight week of lower oil inventories as reported by the EIA.
December crude oil traded from $80.06 to $82.67 Wednesday.
The EIA also reported that gasoline stocks fell 1.2 percent last week. However, front-month gasoline settled flat at $2.16 a gallon Wednesday. According to the DOE agency, total U.S. gasoline inventories stood at 207.7 million barrels as of November 12.
The gasoline futures price ranged from $2.16 to $2.18 during Wednesday's trading.
Thanks to cooler weather, coupled with speculation that the DOE will report a drop in inventories Thursday, December natural gas settled at $4.03 per thousand cubic feet—a 21-cent day-on-day increase. Natural gas traded from 3.80 to 4.04 Wednesday.
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