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By Samuel R. Avro on May 6, 2009 with no responses

Crude Oil Trades Above $56, Peak Level for 2009

oil_drillingCrude oil futures traded at levels that haven’t been reached since November, after a government report showed that crude inventories gained significantly less than expected.

Crude oil for June delivery rose $2.46, or 4.6 percent, to settle at $56.30 a barrel at the close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil is up 26 percent since the beginning of the year.

The futures contract managed to briefly touch $56.47, a level not seen since Nov. 17.

The Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday that crude inventories increased by 600,000 barrels last week to a fresh 19-year high at 375.3 million barrels, but even so it was a much smaller build than expected. Analysts were expecting an increase in the area of 2.5 million barrels.

Among other factors in the rise in crude oil prices, were signs that the economic recession is slowing, after a better than expected job losses report was released.

While it was expected that the report would show that 650,000 workers lost their jobs in April, the data instead showed that 491,000 were actually cut off the salary rolls.

Gasoline supplies fell 167,000 barrels to 212.4 million in the week ended May 1, the EIA report showed. Expectations were for a gain of about 500,000 barrels.

Total daily fuel demand in the U.S. averaged 18.2 million barrels in the four weeks ended May 1, down 7.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the department. It was the lowest consumption level for a four-week period since May 1999.