Brent Rebounds, US Crude Gains As Spread Dips Below $4


NEW YORK, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Crude oil futures on both sides of the Atlantic settled higher on Wednesday, shrugging off early losses after a report showed an unexpected drawdown in crude oil inventories in the United States, the world's largest oil consumer.

Mounting tensions in the Middle East and stronger-than-expected growth expectations for China also helped lift the international benchmark Brent price off a two-year low.

Weak European economic data and a rise in oil exports from Iraq, Libya and Nigeria have eroded Brent over the past few months, pulling it down by around 14 percent this quarter, the biggest quarterly drop since the second quarter of 2012.

U.S. crude reversed earlier losses to gain more than $1 on Wednesday following an Energy Information Administration report that said U.S. stocks fell 4.3 million barrels last week to 358 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 386,000 barrels, although crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 191,000 barrels.

RBOB gasoline futures also got a lift from news of glitches at several U.S. refineries, including Valero's Meraux and Alon's Big Spring.

"RBOB was strong on a slew of refinery news; that may have inspired a little bit of buying," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Brent crude for November delivery rose by 10 cents to settle at $96.95 a barrel, more than $1 higher than its session low of $95.60, its lowest since July 2012. It was down more than 6 percent for the month so far, the biggest monthly drop since April 2013.


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