London Brent crude, seen as the best indicator of the global market, was up 56 cents at $76.00 a barrel by 0952 GMT, after sliding 96 cents on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s fall followed 10 straight days of gains during which oil rose $6 to hit a new 11-month high, bringing it within striking distance of its record.
US crude rose 37 cents to $72.93 after falling 25 cents a day earlier.
Investors and analysts have cited speculative buying by hedge funds and pension funds as a key driver of the latest oil rally, underpinned by bullish fundamental factors.
‘The strong price rally in recent weeks has been firmly grounded in near and longer-term fundamentals,’ Goldman Sachs said in a research note.
‘These tightening fundamentals have led investor length across the hydrocarbon complex to exceed the high levels reached last year, but with much more sustainable drivers.’
Traders are awaiting the International Energy Agency’s monthly report on Friday, expected to give the latest snapshot of global oil demand and stockpiles.
The agency’s medium-term oil market report released earlier this week warned that oil demand would rise faster than expected over the next five years while production lags.
US Energy Information Administration data on Wednesday showed a 1.2 million-barrel increase in gasoline inventories there in the week ended July 6, just above analysts’ forecasts for a 900,000 barrel-build.
But gasoline stocks remained 8.2 million barrels lower than a year ago, while the peak demand season is expected to last at least more than a month.
‘Yes gasoline stocks rose last week, but it is difficult for traders to sell when the US gasoline stocks are still at a low level,’ said Ken Hasegawa of Himawari CX.
US refiners have struggled with unexpected outages this year that drained gasoline stocks ahead of the summer driving season, when demand for the motor fuel peaks.
Demand for gasoline over the past four weeks was up 1.4 percent against year-ago levels, while total fuel demand over the past four weeks was flat versus the same period last year.
Crude stocks in the world’s top energy consumer fell 1.4 million barrels last week, compared to an expected rise of 100,000 barrels.
Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali Al Naimi said the tightness in supply of oil products such as gasoline and international political tensions were pushing prices higher.
His view was echoed by other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, who said they were ready to pump more crude, but saw no need to do so now, rebuffing calls from consumer nations for extra oil to lower prices that reached 11-month highs this week.
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