Crude inventories dive again

Crude prices rose early Thursday on reports that U.S. inventories declined over the past week.

Crude oil inventories again fell significantly, draining U.S. stockpiles by more than 10 million barrels over the past two weeks, the Energy Department reported Wednesday.

Commercial crude inventories fell 6.4 million barrels last week, following a 4 million barrel decline the previous week. Gasoline inventories fell by nearly 2.9 million barrels.

The declines were good news for oil markets, where prices have trended lower recently over concerns the global oil supplies remain stubbornly high — despite OPEC’s recent decision to extend production cuts into next year. Crude was trading at about $49 a barrel in New York after the release of the inventory report, up about 60 cents a barrel.

RELATED: OPEC’s extended cuts a starting pistol for shale drillers

Over the past four weeks, demand for all petroleum products was up slightly, compared to the same period last year. Consumption of gasoline, however, was down slightly — less than 1 percent — to about 9.6 million barrels. Consumption of distillates, such as diesel fuel, were up 3 percent from a year ago; jet fuel consumption jumped 6 percent.