Weekly crude oil inventories in the U.S. increased higher than market expectations last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed Wednesday, after which oil prices extended their losses to more than 5 percent.
The U.S. crude oil stocks rose 8.2 million barrels for the week ending March 3, the EIA said, beating the market expectation of 2 million barrels of increase.
This also marked the ninth consecutive weekly increase in crude inventories.
"The growth in crude stocks last week was largely driven by a sharp rise in net imports," Thomas Pugh, a commodities economist at London-based Capital Economics, said in a note.
Oil imports increased 561,000 barrels per day (bpd) during that period to 8.15 million bpd, according to the EIA.
"What’s more, the U.S. oil production rose by about 50,000 bpd," Pugh said.
The country's oil output reached 9.1 million bpd, the EIA data showed.
Gasoline inventories, on the other hand, declined 6.6 million barrels for the week ending March 3, according to the EIA figures.
This decline in gasoline stocks, however, was not enough to keep oil prices steady, since crude inventories rose significantly higher than market expectations.
As a result, oil prices decreased to their lowest levels since December.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) saw as low as $50.06 a barrel with a 5.8 percent decline on Wednesday, while international benchmark Brent crude fell as much as $52.94 per barrel -- a 5.3 percent decline.
By Ovunc Kutlu in Houston, Texas