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Crude Oil Futures Fail To Retain Early Gains, Settle Notably Lower

Despite data showing another weekly decline in U.S. crude stockpiles, and outages in Texas due to frigid temperatures, crude oil futures settled lower on Thursday amid prospects of OPEC increasing crude production.

More than 4 million barrels a day of U.S. oil output is now offline as Texas oil producers and refiners remain shut due to icy cold weather that's frozen well operations and led to widespread power cuts.

Traders were betting on speculation that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies may decide to increase crude output. The agency and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, are scheduled to meet in the first week of March.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March ended down $0.62 or about 1% at $60.52 a barrel, despite having surged to a fresh 13-month high earlier in the session.

Data released by U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) this morning showed crude inventories declined by 7.258 million barrels last week, falling more than three times the expected decline.

Distillate stockpiles were down 3.42 million barrels last week, more than twice the expected drop.

The EIA report also said gasoline inventories increased 672,000 barrels last week, less than an expected increase of 1.379 million barrels.

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