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Oil prices increased today following a sharp decline in US gasoline stocks. Prices also got support from expectations that demand will rise ahead of the summer driving season in the world’s top oil consuming nation.

Brent crude increased by 36 cents at $102.09 a barrel, while US crude added 45 cents to reach $91.88 a barrel, reported Reuters.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA), in its data, has said that inventories at Cushing increased only by 35,000 barrels last week.

In addition, gasoline inventories dropped a sharp 3.9-million-barrels last week, as refinery output unexpectedly dipped, against analysts’ expectations for a decline of 200,000 barrels.

Oil prices are also anticipated to get a boost as the European Central Bank (ECB) is more likely to lower interest rates that at any time since it last reduced them, in July 2012, and is expected to shave a quarter-point off at its policy meeting next week.

"In addition, gasoline inventories dropped a sharp 3.9-million-barrels last week, as refinery output unexpectedly dipped."

Price gains were, however, restricted as apprehensions on the condition of the global economy and its impact on oil demand continued.

In March, orders for long-lasting goods manufactured in the US recorded its biggest drop in seven months.

In China, growth in manufacturing activities also slowed down, while in Germany business activity declined for the first time in five months.

Last week Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said that Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ministers are currently discussing whether to call an emergency meeting considering the recent price slide.


Image: Headquarters of US Department of Energy in Washington, DC, where EIA is located. Photo courtesy of US Department of Energy.

Energy