,TOKYO - Oil prices dropped for a fifth day on Thursday after official data showed a sustained rise in U.S. crude and fuel inventories, while the ever-present pandemic clouded the demand outlook. Brent crude was down 12 cents, or 0.2%, at $67.88 a barrel by 0119 GMT after dropping by 0.6% on Wednesday. U.S. oil was also down 12 cents, or 0.2%, at $64.48 a barrel, having fallen 0.3% the previous session. Government data on Wednesday showed U.S. crude inventories have risen for four straight weeks after refineries in the south were forced to shut due to severe cold weather. An industry report estimating a 1 million barrel-drop had raised hopes the run of gains might have stopped. "Even with the continued recovery in refinery activity, U.S. crude stocks rose last week," Capital Economics said in a client note. "We suspect that stocks will fall soon as refinery activity rises further and crude production holds steady," Capital said, noting that refineries are "rapidly coming back online." U.S. crude inventories increased by 2.4 million barrels last week, an industry report on Tuesday estimated a 1 million barrel-decline. Analysts had on average expected an increase of 3 million barrels. [EIA/S] Stocks of gasoline and diesel increased against expectations among analysts for a decline. On the demand front, a number of European countries have halted use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine because of concerns about possible side effects. Germany is also seeing a rise in coronavirus cases, while Italy plans a national lockdown for Easter lockdown and France will introduce tougher restrictions. REUTERS
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