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US oil settles at one month high, fire lit by stockpile data

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U.S. oil rose nearly $2 a barrel on Wednesday after the government reported a large draw in commercial crude stocks, as Brent also rose on support from the persistent disruption to Libya's output amid renewed fighting.

U.S. crude stocks fell last week as imports slumped to the lowest since 1997, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported.Crude inventories fell 7.2 million barrels last week, while net crude imports fell 658,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a record low of 6.4 million bpd. The industry group American Petroleum Institute reported a 10 million barrel draw late on Tuesday, which helped oil make a modest rally overnight that extended after the EIA report.

Oil held gains after minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting suggested policymakers discussed how to tighten monetary policy, though they gave no timetable.

Brent crude gained 80 cents to jump over $110 a barrel, after it settled 32 cents higher. U.S. crude for July delivery spiked $1.74 to settle at $104.07 a barrel, its highest settlement since April 21. Year-to-date, oil prices are up 5.4 percent.

The strength in U.S. crude pulled U.S. gasoline prices higher in spite of a nearly 1-million-barrel build last week. U.S. gasoline RBOB futures rose 2.12 cents to $2.9852 a gallon.

Explosions and fighting were heard in Tripoli on Wednesday, two days after gunmen stormed parliament amid a surge in violence in the OPEC member country. National output in Libya edged higher to 230,000 barrels per day (bpd), up from 210,000 bpd on Monday but still a fraction of the 1.6 million bpd the country produced before the 2011 war.

Two large oilfields were still shut 10 days after the government said protests there were over.

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