Oil prices extend gains, buoyed by unexpected drop in U.S. gasoline stocks

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TOKYO (July 19): Oil prices on Wednesday extended gains from the previous session, buoyed after official data showed that U.S. inventories of gasoline, diesel and heating oil unexpectedly fell last week.

Brent crude futures had risen 8 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $72.98 by 0043 GMT. They climbed 1 percent on Wednesday after initially falling to the lowest in three months following the release of official production and stockpile data, which also showed a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $68.96. They also gained about 1 percent on Wednesday.

Gasoline inventories fell by 3.2 million barrels last week, while distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, dropped by 371,000 barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

A Reuters poll taken before the data release had forecast that gasoline stocks would be unchanged and distillate stockpiles would show a build of around 900,000 barrels.

U.S. crude stocks rose by 5.8 million barrels last week, compared with a forecast of a decline of 3.6 million barrels.

Oil production reached a record 11 million barrels per day, the EIA said. The United States has added nearly 1 million bpd in production since November, thanks to rapid increases in shale drilling.

Oil markets have fallen over the last week as Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia increased production and as some supply disruptions eased.

OPEC and non-OPEC's compliance with oil output curbs has declined to around 120 percent in June from 147 percent in May, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. - Reuters