Oil slipped on Wednesday, extending hefty losses from the previous session as rising stockpiles of U.S. crude outweighed positive economic data.
U.S. crude for October fell 62 cents to settle at $71.43 a barrel, after falling $2.32 on Tuesday. Brent crude fell 17 cents to $71.65.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Wednesday that crude stocks in the world's largest energy consumer rose by 200,000 barrels last week due to a rebound in imports.
The increase in stockpiles defied analyst expectations for a 1.1-million-barrel drop, reigniting worries over soft recessionary demand.
We remain in a situation of massive oversupply, which is off the charts, but it does appear to be peaking, Summit Energy analyst Brad Samples said.
Wall Street stock indexes were mixed Wednesday afternoon as investors shrugged off U.S. economic data showing a mild recovery in the housing market and an increase in durable goods orders. <.N>
Oil traders have been taking the opportunity to lock-in profits after crude touched the psychologically important $75 mark this week, crowning a nearly 130 percent jump in prices from the lows at the turn of the year.
Some analysts said the failure to break through the key level may signal that prices have topped out, with demand for oil still depressed by the global economic slowdown and murky signs of a broad recovery.
The price action of the past 24 hours would appear to favor additional price declines, said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates.
Venezuela's oil minister Rafael Ramirez said OPEC is unlikely to raise output at its September meeting, despite concerns from some quarters that oil prices are too high for a still fragile global economy.
OPEC member Nigeria said later in the day it would not push for any change in output at the meeting, scheduled for September 9 in Vienna.
(Additional reporting by David Sheppard in London and Ramthan Hussain in Singapore; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)