Oil Prices Finish Higher

By Christopher Alessi Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oil prices closed at a six-month high on Thursday, boosted by declining stockpiles of fuel and hopes that OPEC will extend a deal to limit global production.

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Light, sweet crude for December delivery rose 46 cents, or 0.9%, to $52.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settle value since April 17. Brent, the global benchmark, rose to a two-year high, closing up 86 cents, or 1.5%, to $59.30 a barrel.

Prices have risen 11 out of the past 14 sessions, as a steady decline in inventories has boosted investor optimism that global supply and demand are starting to even out.

Adding to bullish sentiment, Saudi Arabia and Russia -- the world's two largest crude producers -- want to extend a deal to cut production through the end of next year, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with several other nations outside the cartel, agreed to curb oil production by about 1.8 million barrels a day last year.

The deal has been extended once through March 2018, but some market participants are now expecting that the group will push the agreement out further as it attempts to bring storage levels back to the five-year average.

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"Everyone is looking forward to the OPEC meeting at the end of next month," said Thomas Pugh, a commodities economist at Capital Economics. OPEC's next official meeting is on Nov. 30 in Vienna.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration also reported that while crude stockpiles unexpectedly increased, gasoline and diesel supplies fell by 5.5 million barrels and 5.2 million barrels, respectively, in the week ended Oct. 20.

"That suggests that the demand picture here in the U.S. is pretty good," said Gene McGillian, research manager at Tradition Energy. "The idea that demand is strong is still underpinning the market's upward move."

Meanwhile, gasoline futures rose 0.9% to $1.7506 a gallon and diesel futures gained 1.3% to $1.8419 a gallon.

Write to Christopher Alessi at christopher.alessi@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 26, 2017 16:47 ET (20:47 GMT)