Oil prices rose to an eight-week high on Wednesday, as a fall in U.S. inventories bolstered expectations that the long-oversupplied market was moving toward balance.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures ended Wednesday's session up 86 cents, or 1.8 percent, at $48.75 a barrel. Brent crude futures were up 80 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $51 a barrel by 2:35 p.m. ET (1835 GMT).
U.S. crude stocks fell last week as refineries hiked output and imports dropped, while gasoline stocks decreased and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories fell 7.2 million barrels in the week ending July 21, more than the expected decrease of 2.6 million barrels. The decline was the fourth consecutive drop, giving support to the market.
Gasoline stocks fell by 1 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a 614,000-barrel drop. Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, declined by 1.9 million barrels, versus expectations for a 453,000-barrel drawdown, the EIA data showed.