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Oil prices rise; WTI up despite gain in US supplies

Oil prices pushed higher on Wednesday (Aug 13), as investors shrugged off a surprise increase in US commercial crude-oil stockpiles.

NEW YORK: Oil prices pushed higher on Wednesday (Aug 13), as investors shrugged off a surprise increase in US commercial crude-oil stockpiles.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for September delivery rose 22 cents, finishing at $97.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The main European futures contract, Brent North Sea crude oil for September, surged $1.26 higher to close at $104.28 a barrel in London trade, rebounding from a 13-month low the prior day.

Both WTI and Brent fell on Tuesday after the International Energy Agency cut its demand outlook for 2014 and 2015, citing slower global economic growth. Traders weighed the US government's report of the first increase in US crude-oil supplies in seven weeks.

US crude-oil inventories rose by 1.4 million barrels, to 367.0 million, in the week ending August 8, the Department of Energy said. Crude-oil supplies had contracted by roughly 22 million barrels over the prior six weeks.

The inventories increase surprised analysts, who expected a decline of 1.7 million barrels, according to a survey by Dow Jones Newswires. The WTI contract initially fell on the news.

Distillates, including diesel and heating fuel, fell much more than expected, by 2.4 million barrels to 122.5 million. Gasoline inventories, closely watched during the peak-demand US summer driving season, fell by 1.2 million barrels to 212.7 million, in line with expectations.

Michael Lynch of Strategic Energy and Economic Research said the inventory report was "mildly bearish" while the gasoline and distillate numbers were "bullish." "Maybe some people felt we were down enough" after the prior day's sell-off, he added.

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