NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) - Oil prices dived 6 percent on Wednesday after closing at their highest this year, as a mammoth rise in U.S. crude stockpiles and news of record Saudi oil production scuttled talk of a sustained recovery.
U.S. crude oil inventories surged 10.95 million barrels - three times more than expected - to a modern-day record 482.39 million last week, U.S. government data showed, the biggest one-week increase since 2001. Stockpiles in Cushing, Oklahoma, rose by 1.2 million barrels, much more than expected.
The data added to earlier losses triggered by comments that Saudi oil production rose to 10.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in March, the highest monthly total on record.
Brent May crude fell $3.55, or 6 percent, to settle at $55.55 a barrel. U.S. May crude fell $3.56, or 6.6 percent, to settle at $50.42 after closing at nearly $54 a barrel on Tuesday, the highest close since Dec. 30.
The U.S. data were "very bearish," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
The rise in crude stocks was fuelled in part by a 869,000-bpd increase in imports. Gasoline inventories rose 817,000 barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for a 1.0 million-barrel drop, as refiners increased capacity utilization.
U.S. RBOB gasoline futures fell 12.17 cents, or 6.54 percent, to settle at $1.7392 a gallon.
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