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Updated from 2:43 p.m. EST

Oil futures perked up Wednesday despite a government report showing the seventh consecutive week of growing U.S. crude inventories.

The December crude contract closed $1.49 higher at $48.86 a barrel on the Nymex, having hit a seven-week low yesterday.

The Energy Department said domestic inventories of crude oil increased by 1.8 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 5, with increases in the Midwest and the Gulf Coast regions more than compensating for declines elsewhere. Analysts had been expecting a build of 2 million barrels.

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Stocks of distillates like heating oil fell for an eighth week, dropping 100,000 barrels to 115.6 million barrels. Analysts had forecast an increase of 200,000 barrels.

A separate report from the International Energy Agency suggested oil might have seen its highest level in recent weeks.

"Barring any major unforeseen developments, oil markets should continue to ease heading into and out of the winter," the IEA said in its monthly Oil Market Report.

The report said U.S. was importing oil at an average 10.5 million barrels per day last week, down 181,000 barrels a day from the previous week. U.S. refinery inputs averaged 15.4 million barrels a day during the week, and most refineries have completed their fall maintenance.