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Crude Oil Prices Move Higher, Eyes on U.S. Supply Data

Crude oil gains ground but upside limited before supply data - Crude oil prices moved higher on Wednesday, after an industry report on Tuesday showed that U.S. stockpiles rose less than expected last week, although traders were still eyeing the release of official U.S. supply data due later in the day amid lingering concerns over output levels.

The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude April contract was up 31cents or about 0.44% at $61.02 a barrel by 04:35 a.m. ET (08:35 GMT).

Elsewhere, Brent oil for May delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London gained 28 cents or about 0.43% to $64.91 a barrel.

The American Petroleum Institute reported late Tuesday that U.S. inventories rose by 1.2 million barrels in the week ended March 9, compared to expectations for an increase of 1.5 million.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) was set to release its weekly supply report later Wednesday. Analysts expect a rise of 2.02 million barrels for last week.

Oil prices came under pressure after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly report on Monday that U.S. crude oil production jumped above 10 million barrels per day (bpd) at the end of 2017, overtaking output by top exporter Saudi Arabia.

The IEA also said that U.S. production is expected to rise above 11 million bpd by late 2018, outpacing Russia.

Separately, the EIA said that U.S. shale production is expected to rise by 131,000 bpd in April from the previous month to a record 6.95 million bpd. That would top the 105,000 bpd climb in March to what was then expected to be a record high of 6.82 million bpd.

Fears that rising U.S. output could dampen global efforts to rid the market of excess supplies persist.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with some non-OPEC members led by Russia, agreed in December to extend oil output cuts until the end of 2018.

Elsewhere, gasoline futures rose 0.32% to $1.897 a gallon, while natural gas futures were down 1.26% at $2.751 per million British thermal units.

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