Crude Oil Ends Higher, Gasoline, Heating Oil Support
Crude oil futures ended higher on Thursday, boosted by demand for refined products after industry data earlier this week showed a steep decline in gasoline and distillate inventories.
U.S. gasoline and ultra low-sulfur diesel (ULSD), more commonly known as heating oil, futures both rose to more than three-month highs in intraday trading as large French refineries remained offline due to strikes.
While U.S. crude stocks unexpectedly rose last week, refineries boosted output and distillate and gasoline stockpiles fell, a report from industry group the American Petroleum Institute said late on Tuesday, indicating strong demand for oil products, including exports.
"Seasonally, this is the time of year when gasoline and heating oil are in the middle of their rally," said Bill Baruch, senior market strategist at iitrader.com in Chicago.
Supply disruptions in Africa supported Brent while the rise in U.S. crude stockpiles capped gains in U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI).
Brent crude settled 8 cents higher at $111.98 a barrel, after touching an intraday high of $112.12, the highest since Dec. 5.
U.S. crude ended 33 cents higher at $99.55 per barrel, trading fully above the 200-day moving average of $98.92 for the whole session for the first time in two months. A settlement above $99.50 likely means prices have further to rise, some technical analysts said. Both markets were shut for Christmas on Wednesday.
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