US crude oil inventories fell Oil prices surged about 4 percent on Thursday after U.S. inventory data showed a surprisingly large drawdown in crude stocks as imports into the U.S. Gulf Coast slid last week due to Tropical Storm Hermine.
U.S. crude stocks dropped 14.5 million barrels last week to 511.6 million barrels, the biggest weekly drop in stockpiles since January 1999, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Analysts had expected a modest increase in inventories.
Brent crude oil neared $50 a barrel for the first time in two weeks. It rose $1.98 to $49.96 a barrel, a 4.1 percent gain, by 2:36 p.m. ET. U.S. crude was up $2.11, or 4.59 percent, to $47.61 per barrel.
Key U.S. oil spreads remained little changed after the EIA report. Tariq Zahir, spreads trader at Tyche Capital in New York, said the “drawdown may be viewed as a one-off situation.”
Gasoline futures jumped 5 percent after the data release, on higher than expected draws. Gasoline margins also rose sharply.
Oil prices drew support earlier when Chinese trade data showed crude imports in August surged nearly 25 percent from a year ago to the second-highest ever, as independent refiners took advantage of low oil prices before import quotas expire in December.Click here for reuse options!