Oil prices rose on Thursday lifted by signs of a tightening U.S. market although high crude supplies from producer club OPEC weighed on market sentiment. Benchmark Brent crude was up 25 cents at 52.61 dollars a barrel by 1353 GMT. U.S. light crude was 15 cents higher at 49.74 dollars. Strong demand in the United States has been supporting prices. The US Energy Information Administration reported record gasoline demand of 9.84 million barrels per day (bpd) for last week and a fall in commercial crude inventories of 1.5 million barrels to 481.9 million barrels.
That’s below levels seen this time last year, an indication of a tightening US market. OPEC and other producers including Russia have promised to restrict output by 1.8 million bpd until the end of March 2018 to help support prices and draw down inventories. OPEC output, however, hit a 2017 high of 33 million bpd in July, up 90,000 bpd from the previous month, a media survey showed this week, led by a further recovery in supply from Libya, one of the countries exempted from the deal.