Oil prices were driven 2 percent higher by an ongoing rally in the U.S. stock market on Thursday, although gains were capped by plentiful supplies and bulging inventories in spite of efforts by producers to cut output.
U.S. crude popped to a peak of $54.06, its highest in more than three weeks, as Wall Street opened at 9:30 a.m. ET and added to the previous session's rally that had lifted the Dow Jones Industrial Average to close above 20,000 for the first time. Major averages were little changed in the afternoon.
Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho Americas, said traders may keep be adding more long positions in oil that are already at two-and-a-half-year highs.
"The market is pushing for $55 oil here and ultimately it seems determined to get there," Yawger said. "The speculators have an interest in pushing this thing to the upside, which has much do with this (rally) as anything else."