TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices rose for a fourth day on Wednesday, holding firm despite an industry report showing that U.S. inventories rose unexpectedly last week, with supply cuts and sanctions supporting the market.
Brent futures rose 22 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $69.59 a barrel by 0028 GMT, after earlier reaching $69.68, the highest since Nov. 13. The global benchmark closed half a percent higher on Tuesday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $62.64 cents a barrel. On Tuesday, the contract rose 1.61 percent, to settle at $62.58 a barrel, after touching $62.75, its highest level since Nov. 7.
“With output falling for a fourth month thanks to continued OPEC production cuts and sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, oil prices are well supported,” Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at Cityindex said in a note.
“On the demand side, easing economic slowdown fears are also offering support,” she said.
Supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting countries hit a four-year low in March, a Reuters survey found earlier this week.
Three of eight countries granted waivers by Washington to import oil from Iran have cut the imports to zero, a U.S. official said on Tuesday, adding that improved global oil market conditions would help reduce Iranian crude exports further.
“In November, we granted eight oil waivers to avoid a spike in the price of oil. I can confirm today three of those importers are now at zero,” Brian Hook, the special U.S. envoy for Iran, told reporters, without identifying the countries.
Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday the United States would continue to pressure Venezuela’s oil industry and those who support it with economic sanctions, citing world oil prices as low enough to allow for the measures.
Venezuela’s state-run energy company, PDVSA, kept oil exports near 1 million barrels per day in March despite U.S. sanctions and power outages that crippled its main export terminal, according to PDVSA documents and Refinitiv Eikon data, Reuters reported later in the day.
U.S. crude stocks rose unexpectedly last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories drew, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said late on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; editing by Richard Pullin)