Oil prices rise on U.S. gasoline stock draw, smaller-than-expected gain in crude inventories

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Oil prices rose further on Thursday after a U.S. report showed a draw in gasoline inventories and a much smaller-than-anticipated rise in crude stocks. U.S. gasoline stockpiles fell by about 2 million barrels in the week to Feb. 14, while analysts had estimated an increase of 435,000 barrels, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA data also showed crude inventories rose only 414,000 barrels last week, compared with expectations of a 2.5 million barrel rise from analysts in a Reuters poll.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 76 cents, or 1.29%, at $59.88 a barrel by 11:07 a.m. ET (1603 GMT). The front-month U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures contract, which expires Thursday, gained 99 cents, or 1.86%, to $54.28 a barrel. The more-active second-month WTI benchmark CLc2 was up 95 cents, or 1.74%, at $54.44 a barrel.

China’s move to cut its benchmark lending rate on Thursday also helped to ease worries about slowing demand in the world’s second-biggest oil consumer and largest crude oil importer. At the same time, the conflict in Libya that has led to a blockade of its ports and oilfields shows no signs of resolution. The more than month-long shutdowns in Libya have reduced the OPEC member’s crude production by more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd).

American Petroleum Institute data on Wednesday showed a bigger than expected build in crude oil inventories. U.S. crude stocks rose by 4.16 million barrels in the week to Feb. 14, while gasoline stocks fell by 2.7 million barrels, the industry group’s data showed.

Oil prices rise on U.S. gasoline stock draw, smaller-than-expected gain in crude inventories. Reuters, Feb 20

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