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Oil Boosted after Data Shows fall in U.S. Crude Inventories

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Oil futures rose Wednesday, buoyed by industry data that showed U.S. crude inventories fell last week.

West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery rose 44 cents, or 0.9, to 48.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. February Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up 38 cents, or 0.7, at 51.47 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group, on Tuesday reported that U.S. crude inventories fell 4.8 million barrels last week, news reports said. API reportedly saw a 718,000 barrel drop in gasoline inventories and a 1.88 million barrel fall in distillate stocks.

Oil prices have remained supported by a weaker U.S. dollarand have finally found a friend in the API inventory report, said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi, in a note.

Official figures from the Energy Information Administration are due Wednesday morning. Analysts surveyed by SP Global Platts, on average, look for crude stocks to fall by 3.8 million barrels, while gasoline inventories are expected to show a rise of 2.3 million barrels and distillate stocks are seen up 1.3 million barrels. 

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.4. A weaker dollar is typically seen as a positive for commodities, making them cheaper to users of other currencies.

February naturalgas futures rose 1 to 2.468 per million British thermal units.

January gasoline futures rose 1.1 to 1.4031 a…

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