Oil futures rose on Thursday after slumping to a three-week low the previous session, buoyed by an industry report that showed U.S. crude stockpiles had fallen more than expected. Data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed crude inventories were down by 8.7 million barrels at 513.2 million in the week to May 26. That compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 2.5 million barrels. Brent crude futures for July were up 46 cents at $51.22 a barrel by 0028 GMT. On Wednesday, they fell $1.53, or 3 percent, to settle at $50.31 a barrel on their last day as the front-month contract.
It was Brent’s lowest close since May 10 and the contract dropped 2.7 percent last month, the third monthly decline. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 51 cents at $48.83 a barrel. They dropped $1.34, or 2.7 percent, in the previous session to settle at $48.32 per barrel, the lowest close since May 12. The U.S. benchmark also fell for a third month in May, declining 2 percent.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report on stockpiles is due at 11:00 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) on Thursday, delayed for a day because of the Memorial Day holiday on Monday. Further gains may be limited for the two major oil benchmarks as bearish news keeps coming from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers including Russia that are locked in a battle against rising shale production in their efforts to boost prices.
Oil futures have given up all the gains posted in advance of last week’s agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers to extend a production cut for a further nine months. Output from OPEC rose in May, the first monthly increase this year, a Reuters survey found. Higher supply from Nigeria and Libya, OPEC members that are exempt from the production-cutting deal, offset improved compliance by others.