U.S. crude oil prices higher ahead of Asian trade

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U.S. crude oil prices rose ahead of the Asian trading day on Thursday after government data showed bigger-than-expected drop in weekly U.S. crude oil inventories.

NYMEX WTI gained 0.28 percent to US$68.05 a barrel. Overnight, the Shanghai INE crude oil contract rose 0.17 percent to 483.3 yuan (US$70.58) a barrel.

Brent crude oil futures settled up 2.96 percent at US$74.78 a barrel on Wednesday, while WTI gained 3.07 percent to US$67.86 a barrel.

U.S. crude oil stocks dropped 5.836 million barrels for the week ended August 17, Energy Information Administration data showed, a sharper draw than the 1.497 million barrels expected.

Imports fell by 1.059 million barrels per day (bpd), while exports fell by 2.58 million bpd, EIA data showed. Gasoline inventories rose by 1.200 million barrels, compared with a draw of 488,000 barrels forecast and distillates rose by 1.849 million barrels, against expectations for a build of 1.463 million barrels.

Refinery runs were unchanged at 98.1 percent of their capacity last week, EIA said, adding U.S. oil production rose for the second-straight week to match record highs of 11.0 million bpd.

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