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USA oil inventories shrank the most since January, according to government data on Wednesday, in contrast to a forecast expansion.

Oil prices have fallen around two per cent today after global stock markets were rocked by China's decision to slap retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

Inventories of US crude fell by 4.617 million barrels for the week ended March 30, confounding expectations for a rise of 1.4 million barrels, according to data from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) on Wednesday.

Gasoline inventories fell in the reporting period by 1.1 million barrels, after a weekly draw of 3.5 million barrels in the prior week, and distillate stockpiles moved higher by 500,000 barrels.

"The damage has been done on the Gulf Coast, where rocketing refinery runs - hark, above 9.1 million barrels per day - and low net imports have drawn down oil inventories by 7 million barrels", said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.

Crude oil futures fell 0.38 percent to $63.30 a barrel by 8:36 GMT.

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The West Texas Intermediate for May delivery dropped 1.93 USA dollars to settle at 63.01 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for June delivery lost 1.70 dollars to close at 67.64 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

The markets enjoyed renewed optimism after China threatened the U.S.'s soybean industry, the country's top agricultural export to China.

However, "though this may seem supportive, the bullish slant was tainted by a whopping 4.1 million barrel build at the Cushing delivery hub", in Oklahoma, noted Stephen Brennock, an analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates Ltd.

Rising U.S. oil output is being overshadowed by geopolitical concerns, however, particularly the uncertainty over the U.S. position on whether to continue to waive sanctions against Iran, due for review in May.

Exports climbed above 2 million barrels per day as a second supertanker laden with US crude set sail from the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the largest privately-owned crude terminal in the United States. Production in the Latin American nation fell by 100 000 barrels from February to 1.51 million barrels a day, the survey showed. Though Baker Hughes last Friday reported a lower rig count, which had a positive effect on prices, the fluctuations in the rig count don't have a lot to do with well productivity these days.


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