Oil prices held on to strong gains during North American morning hours on Wednesday, after data showed that U.S. crude supplies fell for the first time in ten weeks.
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude April contract tacked on 81 cents, or around 1.7%, to $48.53 a barrel by 10:35AM ET (14:35GMT). Prices were at around $48.70 prior to the release of the inventory data.
It settled lower for the seventh session in a row on Tuesday after hitting its weakest since November 30 at $47.09.
Elsewhere, Brent oil for May delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London added 85 cents to $51.78 a barrel. The global benchmark sank to $50.25 in the prior session, its cheapest since November 30.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that crude oil inventories declined by 237,000 barrels in the week ended March 10.
Market analysts’ expected a crude-stock gain of 3.7 million barrels, while the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday reported a supply-drop of 530,000 barrels.
Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the key delivery point for Nymex crude, increased by 2.13 million barrels last week, the EIA said.
Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 528.2 million barrels as of last week, which the EIA considered to be at the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.
The report also showed that gasoline inventories declined by 3.05 million barrels, compared to expectations for a drop 1.95 million barrels.
For distillate inventories including diesel, the EIA reported a decline of 4.3 million barrels.
Oil tumbled on Tuesday after a report showed Saudi Arabia raised output back above 10 million barrels a day in February, underlining concerns over a global supply glut.
Elsewhere on Nymex, gasoline futures for April held steady at $1.599 a gallon, while April heating oil rose 1.8 cents to $1.510 a gallon.
Natural gas futures for April delivery was up 3.2 cents at $2.970 per million British thermal units.