The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery lost 55 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at 71.46 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That marked the lowest finish for front-month contract since Dec. 21, 2021, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
Brent crude for February delivery dropped 1.02 dollars, or 1.32 percent, to close at 76.15 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange, also the lowest settlement since last December.
The slide came as global growth fears gripped markets with sentiment shifting to a risk-off mode.
Traders continued to digest data on U.S. fuel stockpiles.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday reported that U.S. total motor gasoline inventories increased by 5.3 million barrels during the week ending Dec. 2, and distillate fuel inventories jumped by 6.2 million barrels. Analysts polled by the S&P Global Commodity Insights survey had expected the report to show increases of 2.9 million barrels for gasoline and 1.9 million barrels for distillates.
According to the EIA, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 5.2 million barrels last week.