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Oil up as smaller US crude build offsets end of Kuwait strike

[NEW YORK] Oil prices rebounded on Wednesday after a smaller-than-expected US crude build offset glut worries stirred by the end of a Kuwaiti oil workers strike.

The US government's Energy Information Administration said crude stockpiles rose 2.1 million barrels last week.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 2.4 million-barrel build for the period, while industry group American Petroleum Institute had called for a 3.1 million-barrel rise.

"It's overall mixed and slightly supportive, with total stocks of refined products and crude oil combined declining slightly," Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York said, commenting on the EIA data.

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Brent's front-month contract was up 35 cents at US$44.38 a barrel by 11:23 am EDT (1523 GMT). It had fallen to a session low of US$42.81 earlier.

US crude's front-month contract, May, due to expire at Wednesday's settlement, was up 18 cents at US$41.26 a barrel. Its session low was US$39.85.

Oil prices initially tumbled as the Kuwaiti oil and gas industry called off a three-day strike and reports later said six supertankers had lined up at Kuwait's crude export terminal to load oil. Kuwait has also raised its oil output to 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) from 1.1 million on Sunday.