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US oil strides to 2-month high, ends shy of $100

Crude oil futures edged higher on Thursday boosted by rising gasoline and ultra low-sulfur diesel prices, which soared to more than three-month highs after industry data earlier this week showed a steep decline in refined product inventories.

U.S. gasoline and ULSD, more commonly known as heating oil, futures both rose close to 1 percent as large French refineries remained offline due to strikes, while demand increases.

While U.S. crude stocks unexpectedly rose last week, refineries boosted output and distillate and gasoline stockpiles fell, a report from industry group the American Petroleum Institute said late on Tuesday, indicating strong demand for oil products, including exports.

Supply disruptions in Africa supported Brent while the rise in U.S. crude stockpiles capped gains in U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate.

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The spread between the two benchmarks has steadied around $12.50 per barrel for the last four sessions in thin holiday trade.

Brent crude traded near $112 a barrel, marginally higher and not far from its Dec. 5 peak. U.S. crude rose about 33 cents to finish the session at $99.55, trying but faltering near psychological resistance at $100.

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