US crude highest since 2014
LONDON, January 11, 2018 – Crude prices continued higher on Thursday, with the U.S. benchmark hitting its strongest level since December 2014 amid optimism over shrinking U.S. stockpiles.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures hit a session high of $64.08 barrel, a level not seen since Dec. 8, 2014. It was last at $63.94 by 7:50AM ET (1250GMT), up 37 cents, or about 0.6%.
Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., were at $69.40 a barrel, up 19 cents from their last close, after touching its best level since May 2015 at $69.59.
Oil continued to draw support from a report showing U.S. crude stockpiles declined for an eighth straight week.
U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 4.9 million barrels last week to 419.5 million barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s slightly below the five-year average of just over 420 million barrels.
The report also showed that U.S. crude oil production fell by 290,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 9.49 million bpd.
Crude futures have rallied around 13% since early December, benefiting from production cut efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia. The producers agreed in December to extend current oil output cuts until the end of 2018.
The deal to cut oil output by 1.8 million barrels a day (bpd) was adopted last winter by OPEC, Russia and nine other global producers. The agreement was due to end in March 2018, having already been extended once.
In other energy trading, gasoline futures added 0.4 cents, or 0.3%, to $1.838 a gallon, while heating oil inched up 1.0 cent, or 0.5%, to $2.091 a gallon.
Natural gas futures jumped 4.8 cents, or 1.7%, to $2.954 per million British thermal units, as investors speculated weekly storage data due later in the session will show the largest drop on record as cold weather boosted demand.