In good news for consumers and not-so-good news for energy investors, U.S. crude oil inventories rose by more than observers had expected for the week ending Dec. 15, according to figures released late Tuesday, Dec. 19, by the

American Petroleum Institute

(API). Crude oil inventories rose 2.4 million barrels to 289.1 million barrels, while expectations were for crude oil inventories to rise just 1 million barrels, according to a

Reuters

poll. Energy futures fell on the news.

Distillate inventories, meanwhile, declined a smaller-than-expected 891,000 barrels. Experts were expecting a more significant decline in distillate stocks because of recent cold weather. The API figures take on a more bearish tone because week-ago distillate inventories were revised up as well.