Oil prices rise for a second day thanks to China's demand and lower US stocks
Oil prices rose on Wednesday for a second session on signs of strong demand from refiners in China, the world's second-largest crude consumer, amid tight supplies as production producers restrained and unexpected US inventories fall.
By 0513 GMT, London Brent crude was up 27 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $ 71.99 a barrel. Brent rose 0.5 percent to $ 72.08 a barrel, its highest level since Nov. 8 and the highest since the beginning of this year.
US WTI crude futures were $ 64.48 a barrel, up 43 cents, or 0.7 percent, from the previous settlement price.
"Oil futures are on the rise as sentiment in the market is supported by the contraction of US crude stocks and the increasing scarcity on the side of fundamentals in the market right now," said Benjamin Lo, commodities analyst at Philip Futures in Singapore.
China's crude oil consumption in March increased 3.2 percent year-on-year to 53.04 million tonnes, or 12.49 million bpd, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday. The data also show that the country's economy grew in the first quarter by 6.4 percent compared to a year ago.
The steady growth in China's demand comes as an agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day in 2019 to curb global supplies.
Crude supplies also fall this year as the United States imposes economic sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, two OPEC members.
The lack of supplies and key demand factors has pushed West Texas Intermediate crude up more than 40 percent since the start of the year and Brent crude for more than 30 percent.