Oil prices above USD50, buoyed by U.S. stock draw

Iranian-oil

June 22 (Reuters) – Oil prices rose in early Asian trading on Wednesday, with U.S. crude joining Brent above $50 a barrel after data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed a larger than expected draw on stocks.

U.S. crude futures’ August contract, the new front month from Wednesday, had climbed 35 cents to $50.20 a barrel by 0039 GMT. That marked the first time it had risen above $50 since June 10.

Brent crude futures were up 25 cents at $50.87 a barrel, after settling down 3 cents at $50.62 on Tuesday.

U.S. crude inventories fell by 5.2 million barrels for the week ended June 17, the API said. The trade group’s figures were triple the draw of 1.7 million barrels forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.

The U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration will issue official stockpile data on Wednesday.

Markets remain jumpy over the possibility the United Kingdom will vote to leave the European Union on Thursday in a referendum, with polls showing little difference between the “remain” and “leave” camps.

The dollar clung onto modest gains early on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen held the line of “gradual increases” in U.S. rates, while sterling’s short-covering rally lost momentum a day ahead of the referendum.

Japan’s Nikkei was down nearly 0.7 percent in early trading, while gold prices edged lower.