Crude Gets Boost From U.S. Stockpile Data

By Alison Sider and Neanda Salvaterra Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oil prices extended gains Thursday following the previous day's reports that U.S. crude stockpiles shrank.

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U.S. crude futures rose 27 cents, or 0.52%, to $52.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 62 cents, or 1.07%, to $58.52 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Record high exports of U.S. crude and additional demand from refineries as they come back online following Hurricane Harvey helped drain 1.8 million barrels from U.S. crude inventories last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday.

Oil prices have been climbing the past few weeks amid renewed faith in the efforts of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major oil producers to eliminate the global supply glut.

Oil's recent rally represents a return to "the optimism we saw earlier in the year, that the reduction of supply through the 1.8 million cut is basically taking hold and tightening the market," said Gene McGillian, research manager at Tradition Energy.

Still, he said the market could be vulnerable to a selloff if data in the coming weeks doesn't continue to show that the glut of oil is shrinking or if U.S. producers take advantage of the higher prices to ramp up output.

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U.S. and global oil benchmarks have diverged in recent weeks, with the gap between the two trading at its widest in more than two years.

Brent has been bolstered by tightening supplies abroad. This week it also jumped on fears that the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum would lead to conflicts that could interrupt the flow of Kurdish oil. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. reference price, has lagged behind as U.S. fuelmakers were hobbled by Harvey and unable to process as much crude.

The price gap has led to a surge of exports from the U.S. as buyers take advantage of the discount. U.S. crude exports rose to a record 1.5 million barrels a day last week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

"The only real crude surplus left is in the U.S., and, as we whittle down the last of the stored barrels, the world is turning to the U.S. as the supplier of last resort," Energy Aspects analysts wrote in a research note.

Gasoline futures rose 0.61 cent, or 0.38%, to $1.6281 a gallon. Diesel futures rose 0.26 cent, or 0.14%, to $1.8489 a gallon.

Write to Alison Sider at alison.sider@wsj.com and Neanda Salvaterra at neanda.salvaterra@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 28, 2017 10:48 ET (14:48 GMT)