Futures Movers: Oil prices rise ahead of weekly U.S. storage data

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Oil futures gained ground Thursday as investors awaited a government tally of U.S. crude inventories following industry figures that showed an unexpected decline in stocks.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures for December delivery CLZ19, +0.84%  rose 52 cents, or 0.9%, to $57.64 a barrel, while January Brent crude BRNF20, +0.98%, the global benchmark, was up 59 cents, or 0.9%, at $62.96 a barrel.

“The market is bid this morning on a surprise API storage draw; though the number is small enough that it is far from certain the number will be a draw when the EIA comes out later this morning,” said Robert Yawger, director of energy at Mizuho Securities U.S.A., in a note.

The American Petroleum Institute, or API, late Wednesday reported that U.S. crude inventories fell by 541,000 barrels last week, according to sources. The figures come ahead of the more closely watched Energy Information Administration, or EIA data, due for release Thursday morning.

Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts, on average, look for crude inventories to rise by 1 million barrels.

API also showed that gasoline stockpiles rose by 2.3 million barrels, while distillate inventories swelled by 887,000 barrels, sources said. The S&P Global Platts analysts expect the EIA data to show gasoline inventories down by 1.7 million barrels and distillates down by 1.6 million barrels.

Oil futures maintained gains after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, trimmed its forecast for U.S. crude output growth next year by 33,000 barrels a day to 1.5 million barrels a day. OPEC, in its monthly report, left its forecast for 2019 and 2020 global oil-demand growth unchanged from its October estimates.

In other energy trading, December gasoline RBZ19, +0.37%  rose 0.3% to $1.642 a gallon, while December heating oil HOZ19, +1.16%  was up 1.2% at $1.9346 a gallon. December natural-gas futures NGZ19, +2.50%  rallied 2.5% to $2.665 per million British thermal units.