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Oil dips after surprise rise in U.S. crude stocks; focuses on Biden, stimulus

Oil slipped on Thursday after industry data showed a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories that reignited pandemic-led demand concerns, but stimulus hopes in the United States limited the downturn in prices. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 24 cents, or 0.5%, to $53.07 a barrel at 0500 GMT, following two days of gains on expectations of massive COVID-19 relief spending under new U.S. President Joe Biden. Brent crude futures dropped 22 cents, or 0.4%, to $55.86 a barrel. U.S. crude oil inventories rose 2.6 million barrels in the week to Jan. 15, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, compared with analysts’ forecasts in a Reuters poll for a fall of 1.2 million barrels. “Oil prices look a tad vulnerable to potential profit-taking after U.S. crude stockpiles bearishly rose 2.56 million against consensus draw,” Axi chief market strategist Stephen Innes said in a note to clients. However, gasoline stocks and distillate inventories, which include diesel, distillate and jet fuel, rose by less than analysts had expected. The U.S. Energy Information Administration is due to release its weekly inventory report on Friday.