HOUSTON, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday reported an increase of 3.378 million barrels of crude oil in U.S. inventories for the week ending Friday.
Analysts expected a hike of 1.6 million barrels for this week, while the API reported a surge of 7.615 million barrels in the previous week.
Oil prices retreated on Tuesday as traders took profits from recent rally.
The West Texas Intermediate for March delivery dropped 1.49 U.S. dollars, or 1.8 percent, to settle at 80.13 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for March delivery lost 2.06 dollars, or 2.3 percent, to close at 86.13 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Oil prices have scored solid gains recently, with Brent settling at the highest since late November on Monday, boosted by expectations of higher demand in China.
Traders are also awaiting data on U.S. fuel stockpiles as the U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly petroleum status report on Wednesday.
Analysts polled by S&P Global Commodity Insights expect U.S. crude supplies to fall by 2.4 million barrels. ■