Oil rebounds 31 cents, settling at $47.09, on report of falling US crude stockpiles

Key Points
  • Inventories at Cushing, the delivery hub for U.S. crude futures, declined more than a million barrels in the week to Aug. 15, traders said.
  • Brent and U.S. crude fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday as rising U.S. oil production offset a big drop in the nation's crude stockpiles.
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Oil prices rose on Thursday on expectations of a hefty stockpile draw at the U.S. oil storage hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, reversing the previous day's loses spurred by data showing U.S. crude output at its highest in two years.

Inventories at Cushing, the delivery hub for U.S. crude futures, declined more than a million barrels in the week to Aug. 15, traders said, citing estimates from energy industry information provider Genscape.

In the latest week to Aug. 11 for which government data was available, Cushing inventories increased nearly 700,000 barrels. Inventories in the U.S. are closely watched as the market grapples with a global supply glut.

U.S. light crude ended Thursday's session up 31 cents at $47.09. Brent crude was up 75 cents, or 1.5 percent, at $51.02 a barrel by 2:17 p.m. ET (1817 GMT).

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The rebound also came after U.S. crude approached its 50-day moving average of $46.44, a key technical level.

Both benchmarks fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday despite data showing that U.S. inventories last week fell the most in nearly a year.

Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed commercial U.S. crude stocks have fallen by almost 13 percent from their peaks in March to 466.5 million barrels. Stocks are now lower than in 2016.

U.S. oil output, however, is rising fast as shale producers take advantage of a recent increase in prices.

U.S. crude production rose 79,000 barrels per day (bpd) to over 9.5 million bpd last week, its highest level since July 2015, and 12.8 percent above the most recent low in mid-2016.

"Yesterday, the production number trumped the storage number, but it was still a draw of 9 million," said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures, energy futures at Mizuho. "There are some weaker shorts that are probably sold out and they want to get out."

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Rising U.S. output has been undermining efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia to drain a global fuel glut.

They have promised to restrict output by a total of 1.8 million bpd between January this year and March 2018.

William O'Loughlin at Rivkin Securities said that if inventory declines continued at the current pace, U.S. stocks would fall below the five-year average in two months.

"The pace of the declines indicates that OPEC production cuts are having an effect, although the current oil price suggests that the market is skeptical about the longer-term prospects for rebalancing of the oil market," he added.

Brent prices are down almost 12 percent since OPEC and its allies began cutting production in January.

— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.