TOKYO Feb 23 U.S. oil futures rose nearly 1
percent on Thursday after data released by an industry group
showed a surprise decline in U.S. crude stocks as imports fell,
lending support to the view that a global glut is ending.
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude April contract
added 41 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $54.00 a barrel at 0011 GMT.
Brent crude was yet to trade. It ended 82 cents, or
1.5 percent, lower at $55.84 a barrel on Wednesday.
Crude inventories fell by 884,000 barrels in the week to
Feb. 17 to 512.7 million, compared with analysts' expectations
for an increase of 3.5 million barrels, data from industry group
the American Petroleum Institute showed on Wednesday.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub were
down by 1.7 million barrels and U.S. crude imports fell last
week by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to 7.398 million bpd,
according to the API.
Refinery crude runs fell by 182,000 bpd, the data showed,
while gasoline stocks dropped by 893,000 barrels, largely in
line with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll.
Official data from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy
Information Administration (EIA) is scheduled to be released at
11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) on Thursday, a day later than normal
because of a holiday Monday.
(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Richard Pullin)