Crude oil prices slipped slightly on Wednesday as traders mulled over a report released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration revealing inventories increased again in the recent week.
Crude oil for May delivery fell to $49.26 a barrel, down 15 cents for the session. Oil touched as low as $48.91 after earlier hitting as high as $50.79.
U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 5.6 million barrels for the week ended April 10, according to the EIA report. Experts were looking for a build of 2.5 million barrels.
At 366.7 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are at their highest level in almost 19 years. Crude oil stockpiles in Cushing, Okla. fell to 29.2 million barrels, compared to 30 million in the previous week.
Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 900,000 barrels last week, which is generally in-line with analysts' expectations of a 960,000 drop.
On Tuesday evening, the American Petroleum Institute reported a build in crude inventories of 6.5 million barrels for the week ended April 10. The API report is not as closely-watched by traders as participation is voluntary.
On the economic front, the Labor Department said its consumer price index edged down 0.1 percent in March following a 0.4 percent increase in February. Economists expected prices to edge up 0.1 percent.
Excluding food and energy prices, the core consumer price index rose 0.2 percent for the third consecutive month. Economists had been expecting a 0.1 percent increase in core prices.
Earlier, the Mortgage Bankers Association revealed that its market index of mortgage application volume fell 11 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week of April. The Market Composite Index was 1113.2 compared to 1250.6 in the previous week.
Later in the morning, a Federal Reserve report showed that industrial production fell by 1.5 percent in March, matching the decrease that was reported for the previous month. Economists had been expecting a somewhat more modest decrease of about 0.9 percent.
In the afternoon, traders learned overall economic activity has contracted further or remained weak, according to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report released on Wednesday. However, five of the 12 Fed districts noted a moderation in the pace of decline.
Oil dropped 64 cents for Tuesday's session. Prices slipped as low as $48.85 after earlier touching as high as $51.12.
At the pump, gasoline prices averaged $2.051 across the U.S., according to AAA's daily fuel gauge. This is above the month-ago average of $1.91 but well-below the year-ago mark of $3.386.
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