Crude oil futures settled sharply higher on Wednesday, amid speculation the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies might decide to extend production curbs for the near future.
The members of the organization and allies, collectively named OPEC+, are scheduled to meet on Thursday. It is now widely expected that the group may decide to maintain output curbs for a longer duration.
West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended up $1.53 or about 2.62% at $61.28 a barrel.
Data released by Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed U.S. crude inventories increased by 21.6 million barrels in the week ended February 27, as against an expected a drop of approximately 930,000 barrels.
Refinery crude runs fell by 2.3 million barrels per day in the last week, and the overall refinery utilization rate plunged 12.6 percentage points to an all-time low at 56%, EIA said.
Gasoline stocks dropped by 13.6 million barrels in the week, while Distillate stockpiles fell by 9.7 million barrels in the week, beating expectations for a 3-million barrels drop.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported late Tuesday that U.S. crude stocks rose by 7.4 million barrels for the week ended Feb. 26, in stark contrast to analysts' estimates for a draw of 928,000 barrels.