Oil prices drop as data reveals rise in US stockpiles

LONDON (AFP) - Oil prices retreated on Wednesday as official data revealed another rise in US crude stockpiles, adding to concerns about a global supply glut.

Prices had surged on Tuesday on heightened geopolitical tensions sparked by Turkey's shooting down of a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border.

Analysts warned that further escalation could affect crude supplies from the oil-producing Middle East, noting however that the world was currently experiencing a supply glut that has caused prices to slump over the past 18 months.

The US Department of Energy on Wednesday revealed that American commercial crude inventories climbed by one million barrels last week - in line with market expectations.

Following the data, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in January was down 17 cents at US$42.70 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for January shed 41 cents compared with Tuesday's close to stand at US$45.71 a barrel around 1800 GMT.

Traders were looking ahead also to next week's Opec meeting for signs on whether the oil-producing cartel would slash high production levels.

"An agreement to cut the production target will definitely be a booster for oil prices," Bernard Aw, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, told AFP.