LIVE CRUDE OIL UPDATE ::

Oil prices extended gains into a fourth session on Wednesday, buoyed as industry data showed a surprise decline in U.S. crude inventories and as geopolitical tensions over the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist stoked supply worries.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 was up 25 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $72.17 a barrel by 0648 GMT on Wednesday, having settled up 14 cents.

Brent crude LCOc1 was up 26 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $81.67 a barrel, after settling up 63 cents the session before. The global benchmark, which hit a more than two-week low late last week as equity markets dropped, is trading around $5 below a four-year high of $86.74 marked on Oct. 3.

U.S. crude inventories fell by 2.1 million barrels last week, compared with analyst expectations for a build of 2.2 million barrels, American Petroleum Institute data showed after Tuesday’s settlement. API/S

“The market is reacting to the unexpected decline as inventories tend to rise at this time of year,” said Tomomichi Akuta, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting in Tokyo, adding that anxieties about the outlook for the global economy were capping gains.

U.S. gasoline stocks dropped by a larger-than-expected 3.4 million barrels, while distillate fuel stockpiles declined by a smaller-than-expected 246,000 barrels, the API data showed.

Inventory data from the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration is due at 1430 GMT on Wednesday.

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