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Oil prices edge up on strong China data, U.S. crude oil draw

Oil prices edged higher on Thursday after a drawdown in U.S. crude stocks for a fifth straight week and robust data from China showing a surge in imports, though mounting coronavirus cases globally capped gains. Brent crude oil futures gained 13 cents, or 0.2%, to $56.19 a barrel by 0744 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) increased 20 cents, or 0.4%, to $53.11 a barrel. China’s total crude oil imports rose 7.3% in 2020 despite the coronavirus shock, with record arrivals in the second and third quarters as refineries expanded operations and low prices encouraged stockpiling, customs data showed.

U.S. crude oil stockpiles last week fell more than expected, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose as refiners ramped up output to its highest level since August, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. A hefty U.S. COVID-19 relief package, which President-elect Joe Biden is due to unveil on Thursday, also supported prices.

Still, concerns about mounting virus cases and the impact on oil demand capped price gains. China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, reported its biggest daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months as infections in northeastern Heilongjiang province nearly tripled, underscoring the growing threat ahead of a major national holiday.

Oil prices edge up on strong China data, U.S. crude oil draw, Reuters, Jan 14

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