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) -- After the release of news of an unexpected leap in gasoline inventories, NYMEX crude was sinking in the afternoon.

On Wednesday morning, the government's Energy Information Administration reported its weekly inventory figures. Crude inventories grew by 800,000 barrels last week, with total stockpiles landing at 339.9 million barrels. According to a poll by Platts, analysts were expecting a jump of 900,000 barrels for the week ended Oct. 23.

But it's the surprise boost in gasoline inventories that has futures prices moving, as stockpiles went higher by 1.7 million barrels while analysts had forecast a drawdown.

Distillate fuels also fell by 2.1 million barrels.

In the afternoon, the front-month contract for benchmark crude was diving by $2.10 at $77.45 a barrel.

Elsewhere, shares of


(COP) - Get ConocoPhillips Report



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(HES) - Get Hess Corporation Report

were dropping with other energy players in the afternoon after both reported third-quarter profit slides. ConocoPhillips was dropping by 2.7%, while Hess was falling by 2.3%.

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report

, which reports its quarterly earnings figures on Thursday, was also bidding lower by 0.9%.


(CVX) - Get Chevron Corporation Report

, which reports Friday, was changing hands down 0.7%.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

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