Oil prices rose in volatile trade on Thursday, as data showing tight U.S. gasoline supplies and technical trading ahead of options expiry provided rare support amid a long downturn.
U.S. government data showed gasoline stockpiles fell to their lowest level in two years, pushing gasoline futures 3 percent higher early and boosting crude futures which have fallen more than 25 percent since June.
At around 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT), crude suddenly surged as much as $3 a barrel as investors rushed to cover positions tied to U.S. WTI options trades set to expire later in the day, as well as automatic buy-stops. By the end of the session, oil prices had given up much of those gains, but remained higher on the day.
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