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Oil prices rise as markets on tenterhooks ahead of Brexit vote
[TOKYO] Oil prices rose in early Asian trading on Thursday, shrugging off a smaller than expected decline in US stockpiles as the market waited with bated breath for the result of Britain's "Brexit" vote.
Trading has been choppy in the run up to Thursday's vote on whether Britain leaves or stays in the European Union (EU), and is expected to remain so before results start filtering through late on Thursday or early Friday.
Brent's August front-month contract was up 41 US cents at US$50.29 a barrel at 0038 GMT. It closed down 74 US cents, or 1.5 per cent, at US$49.88 a barrel on Wednesday.
Prices for US oil were also higher, rising 43 US cents to US$49.56 a barrel.
"A positive tone in the commodity markets continues to support prices," ANZ said in a morning note.
"However the gains remain limited as investors await the outcome of the EU vote in the UK."
US crude inventories fell less than expected last week, while product inventories were up slight, the US Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories dropped 917,000 barrels in the week ended June 17, compared with expectations for a decrease of 1.7 million barrels. It was the fifth consecutive week of drawdowns for crude inventories.
The pound rose to a six-month high against the US dollar early on Thursday after the latest polls showed those in favour of Britain remaining in the EU were in the majority.
The yen, often a safe-haven currency for risk averse investors, was down about 0.3 per cent, while the Nikkei rose by slightly more than that.