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US crude clings to gains after US inventory surge

Brent crude dipped and U.S. crude rose in choppy trading on Wednesday, narrowing the spread between the two benchmarks.

U.S. crude edged up to near $100 a barrel after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported the eighth straight weekly draw in oil stocks at the contract's delivery point in Cushing, Oklahoma.

That 1.3 million barrel draw at Cushing was larger than reported by industry group the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday, and overshadowed a larger-than-expected 6.6 million-barrel build in crude stocks nationally. Most of the build occurred in the Gulf Coast, home to nearly half of U.S. refining capacity.

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Brent for May delivery was flat near $107. U.S. crude, known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, climbed $1.07 to settle at $100.26 a barrel. The spread between the two narrowed to $7.06 from Tuesday's close of $7.80, and an earlier wide point of $8.03.

Analysts said uncertainty around ongoing delays in the Houston Ship Channel, a key waterway for supplying Gulf Coast refiners with crude oil shipments, was reflected in an unenthusiastic market. WTI could face pressure from higher oil imports in the coming days as the Houston Shipping Channel gradually reopens following an oil spill on Saturday.

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