NEW YORK, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Oil prices settled up on Thursday after a U.S. government report showing hefty draws in diesel and gasoline offset the first crude inventory build in six weeks.
Crude prices fell initially when the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said crude stocks swelled 4.9 million barrels in the week ended Oct. 7. It was the first crude build since the end of August and was far above a 700,000-barrel rise forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.
Prices bounced back as the market turned its attention to product inventory drawdowns in the same EIA data. The EIA reported a drop of 3.7 million barrels for distillates, which include diesel and heating oil, and 1.9 million barrels decline for gasoline.
Analysts had expected distillates to draw by just 1.6 million barrels and gasoline to decline by 1.5 million.
"There is a lot of seasonality in this data," said Scott Shelton, energy futures broker at ICAP in Durham, North Carolina, adding that crude builds were common this time of year as U.S. refineries headed into maintenance.
Shelton said the rise of crude imports by 110,000 barrels per day (bpd) last week was "marginal" and "hard to get too excited about if you were bearish."
John Kilduff, partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital, said that while more crude builds were likely in the coming weeks due to depressed refinery runs, "the declines in distillate fuels, of late, are starting to add up".
"We remain a long way from supplies getting tight, but it is a trend worth monitoring," Kilduff added.
Brent crude settled up 22 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $52.03 per barrel.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 26 cents, or 0.5 percent, to settle at $50.44.
Oil prices have trended higher since Sept. 27, with Brent gaining about 13 percent, after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries announced its first planned output cut in eight years to rein in a global supply glut that forced crude to crash from highs above $100.
Despite OPEC's expressed desire to cut output, the group this week reported September production at eight-year highs.
Major oil industry executives and investors at a Reuters Summit in London differed on how OPEC's likely action will affect oil prices.
"In 2014, the big opportunity was in prices going down and now the big opportunity is in prices going up. That's the way I see it," said Pierre Andurand, manager of the $1.4 billion Andurand Capital fund in London, which has forecast $60 prices by the year-end.
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