NEW YORK, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Crude prices fell on Wednesday as U.S. crude inventories increased more than expected last week.
The crude prices were heavily pressured after the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday that U.S. crude inventories rose by 5.9 million barrels to 375.1 million barrels in the week ended Oct. 19 due to a rise in imports. Market analysts had expected a 1.7-million-barrel increase. Gasoline stocks also rose by 1.4 million barrels in the week.
Weak European economic data also weighed on the market, as Markit's Composite Purchasing Managers' Index for the eurozone fell to 45.8 in October, the lowest reading since June 2009.
The manufacturing PMI in Germany, Europe's largest economy, also dropped unexpectedly in the month. The Ifo German business climate index fell for the sixth straight month to its lowest level in more than two years, adding to the concerns about the region's economic outlook.
The U.S. dollar rose on Wednesday against its major counterparts. A stronger greenback pushed the oil prices further down.
But there were also some lifting factors in the market, helping limit oil's losses. Iran's oil minister reportedly said on Tuesday that his nation would stop oil exports if the United States and Europe tightened their sanctions on Tehran, posing a potential threat to stable global supplies.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve ended a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday and left its current monetary easing policy unchanged as expected.
And the U.S. Commerce Department's data showed that sales of new homes in the country rose 5.7 percent to 389,000, the most since April 2010.
Light, sweet crude for December delivery fell 94 cents, or 1.08 percent, to settle at 85.73 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for December delivery dropped 40 cents, or 0.37 percent, to close at 107.85 dollars a barrel, registering a seventh consecutive decline.