U.S. crude oil futures rose by nearly $1 per barrel on Friday after government data showed U.S. oil inventories fell for the fourth straight week while Brent was supported by civil unrest in Africa that has cut off supplies.
Brent's gains were capped as traders sold contracts to unwind the spread between the European benchmark and its American counterpart.
The international contract was curbed after government forces said they had defeated South Sudanese rebels in Malakal, the capital of the country's major oil producing Upper Nile state, after four days of intense fighting. Escalating violence in South Sudan had threatened to reduce its crude output further, adding to supply outages in Libya, where production is running at a mere 250,000 barrels per day (bpd).
Prices were supported by U.S. government data that showed crude oil stocks in the U.S. fell by 4.7 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 20, double the forecast of a 2.3 million draw.