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Crude Oil Futures Maintain Gains Following EIA Inventory Data

Crude oil futures maintained gains on Thursday, trading near a three-week high after a government report showed that U.S. crude oil inventories fell less-than-expected last week, while gasoline stockpiles declined unexpectedly.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in August traded at USD98.98 a barrel during U.S. morning trade, jumping 2.4%. 

It earlier rose as much as 2.75% to USD99.39 a barrel, the highest price since June 15. 

The contract traded at USD99.25 prior to the release of the EIA data.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 0.9 million barrels in the week ended July 1, short of expectations for a 2.5 million barrel decline.

Crude supplies fell by 1.4 million barrels in the preceding week.

Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 358.6 million barrels as of last week, remaining above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Total motor gasoline inventories declined by 0.6 million barrels, confounding expectations for a 0.8 million barrel increase.

Energy traders have been closely eyeing gasoline stockpiles as the U.S. driving season entered its peak gasoline demand period.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 9.9 million barrels per day last week, up by 976,000 barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.1 million barrels per day, 546,000 barrels per day below the same four-week period last year.

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.3 million barrels per day, 68,000 barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 88.4% of their operable capacity last week.

Gasoline production increased last week, averaging nearly 9.5 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production averaged about 4.4 million barrels per day.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for August delivery rallied 3.35% to trade at USD117.69 a barrel, up USD18.71 on its U.S. counterpart.

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