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Oil prices rise before US inventory data
[LONDON] Oil prices rose Thursday awaiting data on the size of energy inventories in the US, as markets brush off the prospect of a deal to tackle a global supply glut.
All eyes were on the release of official figures from the US energy department, which will provide a better idea of the strength of demand in the world's top economy and crude consumer.
Around 1130 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October was up 63 cents at US$46.13 a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for November won 57 cents to US$48.55, compared with the close on Wednesday.
Ahead of the data, oil prices have rallied in recent days thanks to a softer dollar which makes greenback-denominated crude cheaper for holders of rival currencies.
Industry-compiled data Wednesday from the American Petroleum Institute meanwhile showed that US crude inventories fell 12.1 million barrels last week, helping also to lift oil prices.
Crude futures were winning support also from news that overall imports to China - the world's top energy consumer - rose in August for the first time in 22 months, raising hopes the huge economy is stabilising after years of slowing.
The developments come as Russia and Opec are due to meet in Algeria later this month to discuss how to deal with a supply glut that has dragged down oil prices for the past two years.
Recent comments from Opec kingpin Saudi Arabia and major non-Opec producer Russia, coupled with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's commitment to "stabilising the market", have raised hopes of a possible production cap.
But traders are still sceptical on whether a deal can be reached after earlier efforts this year were scuppered by Iran, which refused to agree to any deal as it emerged from years of nuclear-linked Western sanctions.