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Oil: Brent nears US$72 amid tightening supplies; surprise draw in US crude stocks

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Oil prices rose on Wednesday, supported by concerns over tightening global supply due to US sanctions and fighting in Libya, as well as an unexpected fall in US crude inventories.

[SEOUL] Oil prices rose on Wednesday, supported by concerns over tightening global supply due to US sanctions and fighting in Libya, as well as an unexpected fall in US crude inventories.

International benchmark Brent crude oil futures rose 21 US cents, or 0.3 per cent, to US$71.93 a barrel by 0034 GMT. Brent earlier hit a fresh five-month high of US$71.96 a barrel, the highest since Nov 8 when prices topped US$72 a barrel.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at US$64.45 per barrel, up 40 US cents, or 0.62 per cent, from their previous settlement.

WTI is up more than 40 per cent this year and Brent up more than 30 per cent, on the back of a deal between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies including Russia to limit their output by 1.2 million barrels per day starting January.

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In June, the producer group and others will decide whether to continue to curb their production, although concerns have arisen over Russia's willingness to stick with the cuts.

An unexpected fall in US crude inventories also boosted oil prices.

US crude inventories fell by 3.1 million barrels in the week ended April 12 to 452.7 million, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 1.7 million barrels, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) released on Tuesday.

"Crude oil prices continued its recent rise, as investors prepared themselves for a barrage of information from the US shale industry," ANZ bank said in a note, pointing to the start of the US reporting season.

Official data on US production from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due to be released on Wednesday.

REUTERS