Oil prices edge higher

Oil prices edged higher Thursday after rallying the previous session on news of a drop in US crude supplies.

The main global contracts for the commodity had surged more than 3.5 percent on Wednesday after the US Department of Energy reported inventories unexpectedly fell last week and imports sank.

The news stoked hopes that a plunge in prices, which has seen the Brent contract hit 11-year lows this week, may be coming to an end.

Around midday in London, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in February was up eight cents at $37.44 a barrel.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate gained 19 cents to $37.69 compared with Wednesday's close.

"US crude oil inventories posted a surprise drop last week, bucking the seasonal trend of rising stockpiles and offering some lift to... prices," said Kash Kamal, senior research analyst at Sucden Financial.

However, analysts pointed out that the US report also included some aspects that were less favourable towards addressing an oil supply glut that has sent prices diving more than 60 percent from above $100 since mid-2014.

Domestic production of oil rose slightly and inventories at a closely watched trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, increased.

WTI meanwhile this week broke past Brent for the first time since January, after US lawmakers last week lifted a 40-year ban on crude exports, leading to hopes of a fall in supplies.

burs-bcp/boc

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