Oil prices hit nine-month high after U.S. crude stock draw

A Canadian Natural Resources pump jack pumps oil out of the ground near Dorothy, Alberta, Canada, June 30, 2009. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Oil hit a nine-month high on Thursday after government data showed a fall in U.S. crude stockpiles last week, while progress towards a U.S. fiscal stimulus deal and strong Asian demand also buoyed prices.

Brent crude futures rose 48 cents to $51.56 a barrel at 0553GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose by 50 cents to $48.32 a barrel. Both benchmarks hit their highest since early March.

“All the headlines have been bullish for oil prices,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.

“U.S. stockpiles posted a larger-than-expected draw, three of India’s refiners are operating almost at 100% capacity, indicating crude demand remains strong, and it seems the U.S. will continue to deliver more monetary and fiscal stimulus, sending the dollar lower and most commodities higher.”

U.S. crude inventories fell by 3.1 million barrels in the week to Dec. 11, the Energy Information Administration said, more than analysts’ expectations of a 1.9-million-barrel drop.

Also boosting oil prices, U.S. lawmakers edged closer to agreement on a $900 billion virus-relief spending package on Wednesday with top Democrats and Republicans sounding more positive than they have in months about getting something done.

(Esta Media Network/Reuters)

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