Crude-oil futures on Thursday settled firmly higher, rebounding after slumping a day earlier on reports of a surprise buildup in U.S. inventories. Traders and analysts said a strong report on U.S. gross domestic product and a larger-than-expected reduction of natural-gas supplies helped to revive sentiment. West Texas Intermediate crude oil for February delivery ended 46 cents, or 0.9%, higher at $52.95 a barrel. A day earlier oil futures skidded lower after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a surprise build up in crude inventories, but on Thursday the administration said natural-gas inventories shrank in the week ended Dec. 16, a supportive sign for crude prices.
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