Oil prices rise after stocks fall

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Oil futures continued to push higher on Wednesday, driven by industry data that showed a drop in US crude inventories as investors ignored tighter restrictions on trading activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery CL.1, + 0.43% CLG21, + 0.43% was up 20 cents, or 0.4%, to $ 53.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. March Brent BRN00 crude, + 0.23% BRNH21, + 0.23%, the global benchmark, was up 13 cents, or 0.2%, to $ 56.71 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Both benchmarks ended Tuesday at their highest level since February 21.

Crude is holding up after the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, reportedly said Tuesday that US crude inventories fell 5.8 million barrels last week. The API also reportedly saw a 1.9 million barrel increase in gasoline stocks and a 4.4 million barrel increase in distillate stocks. The data most closely followed by the Energy Information Administration will be received Wednesday morning. Analysts polled by S&P Global Platts expect EIA data to show crude inventories fell 3.8 million barrels, while gasoline stocks are expected to show an increase of 3.2 million barrels and distillate stocks to rise 2.8 million barrels. WTI was on track to extend its winning streak to seven sessions, with crude prices supported globally by Saudi Arabia’s decision last week to cut production by 1 million barrels a day in February and March. “The flow of negative news on the global macro front or problems with the launch of COVID vaccines can trigger a sharp drop in oil prices,” Stephen Innes, Axi’s chief global market strategist, said in a note. “Still, Saudi Arabia’s willingness to support the oil price limits downside risk this year, but you have to believe that Brent above $ 57 a barrel is susceptible to bad news,” he said. February natural gas futures NGG21, + 2.29% was up 2.3% to $ 2,819 per million British thermal units. February gasoline RBG21, + 0.71% rose 0.7% to $ 1.5636 a gallon, while February heating oil HOG21, + 0.49% rose 0.4% to $ 1, 6034 the gallon.

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