NEW YORK, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Oil prices hit multi-month lows on Wednesday after a surge in gasoline stockpiles in the United States as the summer season, the country's biggest demand period for motor fuels, neared its end.
Futures of Brent, the global oil benchmark, hit a six-month bottom while that of U.S. crude touched a 4-1/2-month trough, despite a bigger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles announced by the Energy Information Administration.
Traders and investors focused instead on the unexpectedly large build in gasoline inventories and its impact on refining margins.
"The resulting lower refining margins will decrease the incentive for crude oil processing, leading eventually to a renewed rise in crude oil stocks from an already lofty level," Carsten Fritsch, senior commodity analyst at Frankfurt-based Commerzbank AG, told the Reuters Global Oil Forum.
U.S. crude futures settled down 59 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $45.15 a barrel, hitting a low last seen in March of $44.83. The market initially rallied nearly $1, reacting to the drawdown in crude stockpiles before retreating on the gasoline numbers.
Futures of Brent closed 40 cents lower at $49.59 a barrel, after falling to a January low of $49.02.
Gasoline futures settled down almost 1 percent, hitting a 5-1/2 month low.
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