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Oil snaps losing streak, ends above $104 on pipeline news

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U.S. crude prices posted their largest gain in two weeks on Wednesday, following news that TransCanada's Keystone XL Gulf Coast would start up by the end of the year.

The news narrowed the premium for Brent oil futures over U.S. oil futures, known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), to the narrowest level in a week, briefly dropping below $5 a barrel.

The southern portion of TransCanada's 700,000 barrel per day crude pipeline was 95 percent complete and the company was focused on starting the line that will move crude from Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI futures, to the Gulf Coast refining center by the end of the year, a TransCanada spokesman said.

Traders who were holding long Brent oil positions and short positions on WTI were forced to buy the U.S. oil contract to cover bets once prices began to rise, which drove a further price spike, said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

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Over the past 13 weeks, crude inventories at the hub have fallen by nearly 17 million barrels, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Draws have been declining in recent weeks, with stockpiles at Cushing down just 59,000 barrels in the week to Sept. 27, the EIA reported on Wednesday.

Brent crude for November rose by nearly $1 to trade just shy of $109 a barrel. U.S. crude settled up $2.06, or more than 2 percent to end at $104.10, snapping a three-day losing streak.

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--By Reuters