The oil price was steady at more than $72 a barrel on Thursday 17 September, following a rise of more than 2% a day earlier and a larger-than-expected fall in US crude oil inventories, according to Reuters.

The stock decline came a day after data from the American Petroleum Institute showed a sharp build up in gasoline and distillate stocks – a combination that analysts say could hurt the profitability of US oil refiners.

As US industrial production rose for a second straight month in August, reinforcing views the nation’s recession had ended, energy analysts said that investors’ appetite for riskier assets was growing, which would eventually support oil.

NYMEX crude for October delivery was up $0.05 at $72.56 a barrel by 06.36 GMT, after settling up $1.58 on Wednesday, when prices also got support from a weak US dollar. ICE Brent was down $0.07 at $71.60.

Oil has more than doubled from this year’s low of $32.70 hit on 20 January and is trading 51% below a record high of more than $147 struck in July 2008.

The Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday that US crude stocks fell 4.7 million barrels last week, far more than the forecast for a 2.4 million decline in a Reuters poll.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) might need to cut its oil supply next year to match an expected fall in demand for the group’s crude, an Opec delegate wrote in a Kuwaiti newspaper yesterday.