Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province, China December 7, 2018. Picture taken December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

SYDNEY (Reuters) – U.S. oil prices inched down on Thursday, with traders worried about the strength of demand in the United States after gasoline stockpiles there grew last week by far more than analysts had expected.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $52.20 per barrel at 0022 GMT, down 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement. WTI futures closed up 0.4 percent on Wednesday.

International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 had yet to trade, after closing up 1.1 percent in the previous session.

“While (U.S.) inventories fell slightly more than expected, there was a large build in gasoline inventories. This stoked fears of weak demand in the U.S.,” ANZ Bank said in a research note.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a report on Wednesday that crude production rose last week to a record 11.9 million barrels per day (bpd), as crude exports jumped close to all-time highs near 3 million bpd.

However, gasoline stockpiles USOILG=ECI climbed 7.5 million barrels, far exceeding analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.8 million-barrel gain. At 255.6 million barrels, gasoline stocks were at their highest weekly level since February, 2017.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Joseph Radford


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