Oil stockpiles begin falling slightly after hitting record highs

Crude oil inventories finally began falling in the U.S. after stockpiles hit record highs last week and sent oil prices to their lowest points since late last year.

The nation’s glut of commercial crude fell slightly by 237,000 barrels last week after a huge build of 8.2 million barrels in the week prior. While the decline doesn’t come close to offsetting the recent increases, it’s still a brief sigh of relief for oil markets. The U.S. benchmark for oil rose by about 90 cents a barrel Monday morning to above $48.50 a barrel.

Last week’s crude stockpile hit its highest level since record-keeping began in 1982.

U.S. fuel inventories also fell last week, showing the oversupply of refined products also is beginning to dip. Gasoline stocks fell by 3.1 million barrels, while distillates used for diesel and heating oils dipped even further by 4.2 million barrels.