Crude prices up Thursday ahead of Asia session

U.S. two-dollar billsPhoto by Leslie Shaffer

Crude oil prices held gains heading into Thursday’s Asian session as official data on U.S. inventories showed a surprise drop in supplies.

ICE Brent crude futures were quoted up 1.90 percent to US$77.39 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate NYMEX rose 0.19 percent to US$69.64 a barrel. Brent crude oil futures settled up 1.57 percent to US$77.14 a barrel, while WTI gained 1.43 percent to US$69.51 a barrel.

U.S. crude inventories fell by 2.566 million barrels for the week ended August 24, a sharper drop than the 686,000 barrels expected, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Imports fell by 657,000 barrels per day (bpd), while exports rose by 624,000 bpd, EIA said, with production unchanged at 11.0 million bpd.

Gasoline inventories fell by 1.554 million barrels, compared to a build of 370,000 barrels seen and distillates fell 837,000 barrels, against expectations for a build of 1.592 million barrels.

Refinery activity fell to 96.3 percent of their capacity last week from 98.1% the prior week.

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