Crude prices were supported as well by the latest weekly reading on the U.S. oil rig count, which showed a drop of 10 rigs this week. The data, compiled by industry firm Baker Hughes, is an indication of U.S. oil production in coming months.
While WTI held above $40, its spot December contract reached a record discount, or contango, of nearly $2 a barrel to nearby January, showing traders' reluctance to bid oil up in the near term. On a continuation-basis, the front-month's discount, or contango, to the second month was the largest since late April.
Brent's rise was partly supported by a larger premium for the global crude benchmark versus WTI. U.S. crude has weakened in four straight sessions against Brent.
WTI's contango blew out in recent weeks, coinciding with the spike in the number of barrels of U.S. crude being stored, as traders saw more benefit of buying into oil meant for later shipment due to weak spot prices. Government data on Wednesday showed an eighth straight week of builds in U.S. crude inventories.