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Brent nears $72 amid tightening supplies; surprise draw in U.S. crude stocks

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Brent nears $72 amid tightening supplies; surprise draw in U.S. crude stocks
A pumpjack is seen at the Sinopec-operated Shengli oil field in Dongying, Shandong province, China January 12, 2017. Picture taken January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Chen Aizhu   -   Copyright  AIZHU CHEN(Reuters)
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By Jane Chung

SEOUL (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Wednesday, supported by concerns over tightening global supply due to U.S. sanctions and fighting in Libya, as well as an unexpected fall in U.S. crude inventories.

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

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

WTI is up more than 40 percent this year and Brent up more than 30 percent, 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.

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 U.S. crude inventories also boosted oil prices.

U.S. 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 U.S. shale industry,” ANZ bank said in a note, pointing to the start of the U.S reporting season.

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

(Reporting By Jane Chung; editing by Richard Pullin)

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