NEW YORK, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices finished with significant losses on Thursday, pressured by fears of waning fuel demand.
The West Texas Intermediate for August delivery fell 1.48 U.S. dollars to settle at 55.30 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for September delivery dropped 1.73 dollars to close at 61.93 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
"The renewed downturn was triggered by the U.S. inventory data, a steep rise in oil product stocks weighing on prices," Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said in a note.
According to the Weekly Petroleum Status Report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday, total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.6 million barrels and distillate fuel inventories increased by 5.7 million barrels in the week ending July 12.
Analysts polled by S&P Global Platts had expected a supply decline of 1.5 million barrels for gasoline and an increase of 300,000 barrels for distillates.
"The gasoline inventory build in particular is unusual at this time of year given that the summer driving season normally entails increased consumption of gasoline. That said, U.S. gasoline demand was unusually weak at 9.2 million barrels per day in the reporting week," Fritsch noted.
Market participants also paid close attention to the ongoing U.S.-Iran tensions, which may put the flow of oil in the Middle East at risk. Enditem