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Oil prices edge up despite unexpected US crude inventory build

Brent front-month March crude oil futures were 12 cents a barrel or 0.21 percent higher at $56.97.

By: Reuters | Singapore | Published: December 30, 2016 7:34:52 am

Oil prices rose in early Asian trade on Friday shrugging off a second consecutive week of U.S. crude oil inventory builds, with a U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report late on Thursday indicating an unexpected rise in crude stocks. U.S. benchmark West Texas intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 18 cents or 0.33 percent to $53.95 at 0105 GMT after settling 29 cents lower at $53.77 per barrel in the previous session.

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Brent front-month March crude oil futures were 12 cents a barrel or 0.21 percent higher at $56.97.

Crude inventories were up 614,000 barrels in the week to Dec. 23, the EIA data showed, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 2.1 million barrel.

Despite the unexpected rise in crude stocks, the EIA data published on Thursday showed a significantly smaller rise in crude stocks compared with Wednesday’s American Petroleum Institute (API) data that indicated a 4.2 million barrel build in U.S. crude oil stocks in the same period. [ ]

“Today’s Department of Energy report was positive for light products due to draws in gasoline and distillate inventories compared to consensus’ build expectations,” British bank Barclays said in a note.

Gasoline stocks fell 1.6 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.3 million-barrel rise.

The market is likely to have focused on the surprise draw in product stocks and taken on a slightly more bullish view towards the WTI contract, traders said.

Oil prices will gradually rise towards $60 per barrel by the end of 2017, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, with further upside capped by a strong dollar, a likely recovery in U.S. oil output and possible non-compliance by OPEC with agreed cuts.

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