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Crude Oil Futures Rise Higher on Thursday

Crude oil futures settled slightly higher on Thursday despite data suggesting that supply inventories are shrinking at a snail’s pace, according to Bloomberg MarketWatch.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, June West Texas Intermediate crude finished up 28 cents, or 0.6%, to settle at $49.35 a barrel.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, added 30 cents, or 0.6%, to end trading at $52.51 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Exchange.

Over the past two days, differing reports revealed mixed data showing the pace of inventory declines has slowed, reigniting fears that shale output will overwhelm efforts to curb a glut of global supply.

“Although U.S. commercial stocks are some 34 million barrels below the highest level seen last August, more hard work is needed to bring them down to the five-year average of 1.2 billion barrels,” said Tamas Varga at brokerage PVM.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly inventory report on Wednesday showed oil inventories were down less than expected, falling 1.8 million barrels. A survey of 13 analysts by The Wall Street Journal had estimated a decrease of 2.2 million barrels. Inventory fell by a steeper 5.2 million barrels the previous week.

U.S. production has been steadily rising since the start of the year, reaching its highest level since August 2015, at 9.31 million barrels a day earlier this month.

June natural gas futures lost a cent, or 0.3%, to settle at $3.1820 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.