Adam Wise, senior managing director at John Hancock Financial Services Inc., summarized the reasons for trader optimism: he said the market is digesting "very strong draws in inventories across the board; we've also seen comments out of Saudi Arabia supporting prices in the form of export reduction". The deal to curb output propelled crude prices above $58 a barrel in January but they have since slipped back to a $45 to $50 range as the effort to drain global inventories has taken longer than expected.
US crude futures prices over the next year remain relatively flat.
OPEC and non-OPEC producers reached an agreement in December 2016 to curtail oil output jointly and ease a global glut after more than two years of low prices.
"Both markets are seeing a strong move in spreads through most of 2017 and 2018 due to shorts covering into heavy producer flow", said Scott Shelton, broker at ICAP in Durham, North Carolina.
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OPEC also called on several members to boost compliance with production cuts to help clear excessive global stocks and support flagging prices.
US crude stocks fell sharply by 7.2 million barrels in the week to July 21 due to strong refining activity and an increase in exports, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Reuters reported. Gasoline stocks fell by 1 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations for a 614,000-barrel drop.
Prices were up 8.6% this week, hitting a 2-month peak.
"The market will likely be paying even more attention to drilling activity in the U.S.in the coming weeks, particularly after suggestions from certain industry players that the rig count in the U.S.is slowing", ING said in a research note on Wednesday.