A reduction in commercial US crude stocks, which fell 1 million barrels last week to 532.34 million barrels, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), also supported prices, traders said.
USA gasoline stocks posted a counter-seasonal build of 1.5 million barrels, because of rising refining activity.
Oil fell to a two-week low on Wednesday, after a surprising build in US gasoline inventories and a rise in domestic crude output that is partially offsetting cutbacks by other countries trying to reduce a global glut. Brent crude has gained about 19 percent since OPEC made a decision to pare output, and the benchmark grade was 24 cents higher at $55.13 a barrel at 11:59 a.m.in London.
The energy minister of OPEC member the United Arab Emirates said he saw healthy oil demand growth this year and believed inventories would fall. Over the past four weeks, consumption of all petroleum products averaged 19.7 million barrels, down less than 1 percent from the same period a year ago.
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More barrels could be on their way to the market from US shale fields as financial companies are investing billions in production, a Reuters analysis showed.
West Texas Intermediate for May delivery slipped 41 cents to $52 a barrel at 11:30 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Abu Dhabi: Oil-producing nations are moving closer to ending a global glut and re-balancing the crude market, and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) will decide next month whether to extend its cuts in output beyond June, the group's secretary-general Mohammad Barkindo said.
"Crude oil prices were slightly weaker as the focus turned back to US inventories and output", ANZ bank said on Wednesday.
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"A draw in crude oil inventory was ultimately washed by a surprise build in gasoline", said John Macaluso, an analyst at Tyche Capital Advisors.
Meanwhile, "oil prices have traded in a tight $5 range for over a month".
As of 4:30PM, EST on Tuesday, WTI was trading down.04% at $52.63, with Brent Crude trading down.049% at $55.09. Looking at the latest price reactions, one might conclude that the only reason for the previous price rise was the expectation of further production cuts on the part of OPEC", Commerzbank (Xetra: "CBK100 - news) strategist Carsten Fritch said.
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