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Oil Futures Climb to Near $76 on U.S. Inventory Decline

Reuters
Wednesday, 25 Jul 2007 | 3:43 PM ET

Oil prices jumped on Wednesday after U.S. government data showed a draw in crude inventories as refiners' utilization increased.

U.S. crude surged $2.32 to $75.88 a barrel, while London Brent crude also rose after falling in earlier activity.

Crude stocks in the world's top consumer fell 1.1 million barrels last week, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as refiners increased runs to help meet summer gasoline demand.

Inventories of crude at the Cushing, Ok., delivery point of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell by 1.4 million barrels, adding to the bullish sentiment, traders said.

U.S. gasoline stocks, meanwhile, rose 800,000 barrels -- twice analyst expectations -- to 204.1 million, as refinery utilization rose by 0.7 percentage point.

The gains came after electronic trading of energy futures in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's Globex platform was shut for about an hour due to a technical problem.

Crude prices had dipped in earlier activity, in part due to expectations that crude supplies from OPEC were rising.

Oil consultant Petrologistics, which tracks tanker shipments, said overall OPEC output was set to rise 300,000 barrels per day to 30.7 million bpd this month, as producers take advantage of near record crude oil prices.

OPEC's second-biggest producer Iran said on Tuesday the exporter group, which agreed to cut output last year as prices were sliding, would ramp up output if needed.

This follows similar remarks from OPEC President Mohammed al-Hamli who said on Sunday the organization was worried high oil prices might hurt the world economy.

Production from non-OPEC Russia will remain steady until 2020, its Economy Ministry said on Tuesday, broadly confirming the outlook by the International Energy Agency.

The ministry said in its long-term economic outlook that it expected production from Russia, the world's second-largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, to level off at 10.6 million barrels per day between 2015 and 2020.

A monthly survey of 34 analysts by Reuters put the consensus forecast for London Brent crude futures this year at an average of $66.31 a barrel, up $3.33 from June's poll and 20 cents higher than last year's average.

They forecast U.S. crude prices to average $64.70.

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