US crude ends under $97; brings grim October to a conclusion

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Brent crude futures slid on Thursday, reversing the previous session's gains, as traders took profit and turned their focus to the end of the U.S. refinery maintenance season, expected to boost demand for U.S. crude.

Traders sold Brent after the spread between the international benchmark's premium and the U.S. oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) widened to the most in six months at $13.60 per barrel. Brent's premium over WTI has risen $4.50 in five sessions.

Brent was set to end October nearly flat as disruptions to oil shipments from major producer Libya kept supply tight.

The U.S. benchmark was on course for a fall of 6 percent for October, its biggest such drop in a year, as stockpiles have increased in the world's top oil consumer. U.S. crude's losses widened its discount to Brent to as much as $13.60 per barrel earlier in the day, its widest in over six months, but it subsequently narrowed.

U.S. crude settled down 39 cents at $96.38, its lowest close since early July. The contract suffered a 6 percent monthly decline in October, its biggest such drop in a year. This week, data showed that stockpiles have increased sharply in the world's top oil consumer.

Brent crude for December delivery was down by about $1 to trade under $109 a barrel. The contract was on track to finish flat for the month of October.

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