US Oil Settles At 2-month High On Inventory Decline


U.S. crude oil futures settled on Friday with their highest gain in more than two months driven by the fourth straight weekly decline in oil inventories while Brent drew support from civil unrest in Africa that has cut off supplies.

Brent crude's gains were capped as traders sold contracts to unwind the spread between the European benchmark and its American counterpart.

Brent's rise was also checked after government forces said they had defeated South Sudanese rebels in the capital of the country's major oil producing state, after four days of intense fighting. By Friday afternoon, the government said it was ready for a ceasefire.

Escalating violence in South Sudan had threatened to reduce its crude output further, adding to supply outages in Libya, where production is running at a mere 250,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Prices were supported by U.S. government data that showed crude oil stocks in the U.S. fell 4.7 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 20, double the forecast of a 2.3-million-barrel draw.

Brent oil ended the day 20 cents higher at $112.18 per barrel, the highest settlement since Dec. 3. U.S. crude added 77 cents to settle at $100.32, the highest settlement price since Oct. 18. U.S. oil futures broke above the $100-mark for the first time since Oct. 21.

The spread between the two benchmarks <CL-LCO1=R> narrowed 57 cents to $11.86 per barrel from the previous session.


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