GB: Oil prices extend gains after US stockpile level falls from record high
Crude oil prices rose on Thursday to extend gains from the previous session after official government data showed US stockpiles had eased from record highs.
Prices surged on Wednesday after a slew of market reports and official data offered some hope that a near three-year global glut in oil is coming to an end, albeit more slowly than many have anticipated.
The market was also buoyed after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in line with expectations but did not signal any pickup in the pace of further rises.
US West Texas Intermediate crude was up 0.6 percent at $49.15 a barrel by 1:41 pm Beijing time, having surged 2.4 percent in the previous session while posting its first increase in eight days.
Brent futures climbed 0.7 percent to $52.15. They had their first increase in seven days on Wednesday, gaining 1.7 percent.
The benchmarks have bounced off their lowest levels since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to cut output at the end of 2016, with an initial price surge having evaporated as stockpiles remained high.
Global oil inventories rose for the first time in six months in January, despite the OPEC agreement, the International Energy Agency said in its oil report on Wednesday.
But data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed crude stocks fell last week, the first weekly drop after nine straight increases.
Crude inventories fell 237,000 barrels in the week to March 10, contrary to analysts' forecasts for an increase of 3.7 million barrels.
The inventories have been closely watched by oil traders to see whether the OPEC reduction is reducing the global glut.