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*Oil prices rise as fuel demand surges in top consumer United States*

2021-12-16 08:13:00
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*Oil prices rise as fuel demand surges in top consumer United States*

*Oil prices rose on Thursday as U.S. implied consumer petroleum demand surged to a record high in the world's top oil consumer even as the Omicron variant of coronavirus threatens to dent oil consumption globally.*

*A signal by the U.S. Federal Reserve to tackle inflation before it derails the U.S. economy also boosted prices.*

*Brent crude oil futures rose by 80 cents, or 1.1%, to $74.68 a barrel by 0116 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures increased by 88 cents, or 1.2%, to $71.75.*

*"Despite the current virus surge, the weekly EIA oil inventory report showed demand for petroleum products hit a record high, crude exports bounced back and national crude stocks posted a larger-than-expected draw," said Edward Moya, senior analyst at OANDA.*

*"This current Omicron wave may lead to limited restrictive measures across the U.S., but lockdowns that happened during the peak of the pandemic will not be revisited."*

*U.S. crude inventories sank by 4.6 million barrels in the week to Dec. 10, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed. That was more than double expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.1 million-barrel drop.*

*Product supplied by refineries, a proxy for demand, surged in the most recent week to 23.2 million barrels per day (bpd), due to gains in gasoline, diesel and other refined products.*

*Analysts said the rise reflects both expectations for a surge of people traveling for the holidays and the loosening of supply-chain bottlenecks that has more trucks on the road delivering goods.*

*Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve said it would end its pandemic-era bond purchases in March and begin raising interest rates as unemployment remains low and inflation has climbed.* 

*Lingering worries about coronavirus curbed price gains.*

*Britain and South Africa reported record daily COVID -19 cases with Omicron spreading rapidly while many firms across the globe are now asking employees to work from home, which could also limit oil demand.*  

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