Oil prices leaped Thursday, extending steep gains in the earlier session on signs the U.S. crude glut is not rising as shortly as expected and that gasoline demand battered by COVID-19 constraints is starting to pick up.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures grew to a high of $17.35 a barrel and were up 14.3%, or $2.15, at $17.21. The U.S. benchmark lifted 22% Wednesday.
Brent crude surged 10.3%, or $2.33 to $24.87 a barrel in light trading, with the June contract expiring Thursday. The contract hit a high of $24.91 earlier in the session, having posted a 10% gain Wednesday.
The most lively Brent crude contract for July was up $2.10 or 8.7%, at $26.33/barrel.
U.S. oil dropped into minus territory last week as the May contract was expiring, but analysts stated the market, while nonetheless volatile, appears to have found ground.
U.S. crude inventories advanced by 9 million barrels last week to 527.6 million barrels, U.S. Energy Information Administration data confirmed Wednesday. This was below the 10.6 million-barrel rise analysts had anticipated.
U.S. gasoline inventories plunged by 3.7 million barrels from record highs the previous week, with a slight jump in fuel demand balancing a rebound in refinery output.