Consensus forecasts were for a build of 4.0 million barrels, although there was again an important element of uncertainty given the impact of hurricane Harvey which continued to cause sharp fluctuations across all metrics.
That was largely tied to solid gains in crude oil, sparked by signs of reduced global production. Total U.S. stocks stood at 468.2 million barrels. "The focus now shifts to the post-Harvey scenario", he said.
Brent crude was up 32 cents, or 0.6%, at $54.59 U.S. a barrel by mid-morning Wednesday, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate was up 54 cents, or 1.1% at $48.77 U.S. a barrel.
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"The market seems to be recognizing that this is a hurricane-altered report, and is waiting to see once we get through this hurricane period", said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Global oil supply fell by 720,000 barrels a day in August to 97.7 million barrels a day, its first drop in four months, the International Energy Agency said in its monthly report.
In contrast, gasoline inventories fell by 8.4m barrels last week, which was far more than the -2.0m barrel decline projected by analysts, although they remained in the upper limit of their average range for that time of year, according to the DoE. The decline was the largest draw on record. Gasoline stockpiles were down 8.4 million barrels for the week, while distillate stockpiles fell 3.2 million barrels, according to the EIA.