WTI, Brent crude oil futures settle higher

World oil prices rising

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The West Texas Intermediate for September Delivery added 0.67 dollar to settle at 49.71 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for September delivery gained 1.03 dollar to close at 52.52 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

Oil ended its strongest week this year with a surge on Friday, built on receding fears of oversupply, as US crude came within striking distance of $50 a barrel for the first time since the end of May. Wednesday's USA stockpile report marked an inflection point because inventories fell below year-ago levels, she said.

Saudi Arabia's vow on Monday to cut exports in August helped kicked off the rally, while a sharp drop in USA crude and fuel stockpiles kept the rebound going.

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"Both markets are seeing a strong move in spreads through most of 2017 and 2018 due to shorts covering into heavy producer flow", said Scott Shelton, broker at ICAP in Durham, North Carolina.

USA crude stocks fell sharply last week as refineries increased output and imports declined, while gasoline stocks decreased and distillate inventories dropped, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

The gains in Brent pushed the difference between the two benchmarks to the widest in two months. Gasoline stocks fell by 1 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations for a 614,000-barrel drop.

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Supply interruptions from Venezuela also boosted oil.

Brimming U.S. crude supplies have challenged production cuts to prop up prices led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, meaning weekly U.S. inventory data is closely watched. Combined, the total oil and gas rig count in the USA now stands at 958 rigs, up 495 rigs from past year, with oil rigs in the United States increasing by 2 and gas rigs increasing by 6 this week.

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