NEW YORK Oil prices rose nearly 5 percent on Thursday after comments from the Saudi oil minister about possible action to stabilize prices triggered a round of buying and the International Energy Agency forecast crude markets would tighten in the second half of 2016.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC members and non-members would discuss the market situation, including any action that may be required to stabilize prices, during an informal meeting on September 26-28 in Algeria.
The comments by the minister of the world's top oil exporter triggered fund buying and some short covering, giving a boost to prices, traders and brokers said.
Some traders remain skeptical of the outcome, expecting a repeat of the Doha meeting in April when talks fell through after Saudi Arabia backed out, citing Iran's refusal to join in a so-called production freeze.
"The markets clearly are deriving support from both the IEA report and statements from the Saudi oil minister," said Andrew Lebow, senior partner at Commodity Research Group in Darien, Connecticut.
"In a crude market that has seen a combined increase of 200,000 gross short speculative positions over just the past six weeks, any talk of a potential coordinated effort from producers, no matter how unlikely the prospect, will lead to short covering."
The IEA, which advises large developed economies on energy policy, forecast a healthy draw in global oil stocks in the next few months that would help ease a glut that has persisted since 2014 on the back of rising OPEC and non-OPEC supply.
"Oil's drop ... has put the 'glut' back into the headlines even though our balances show essentially no oversupply during the second half of the year," the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly report.
Both benchmarks soared 4.6 percent by 12:20 p.m. ET (1620 GMT). Brent futures rose $2.05 to $46.10 a barrel and U.S. crude gained $1.93 at $43.64.
In further bullish news, market intelligence firm Genscape reported a draw of about 271,000 barrels at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub for WTI futures in the week to Aug. 9, traders said.
Analysts at brokerage Bernstein said in a note they expect high inventories, especially of refined fuel, to spur further refinery run cuts in the next few months.
"This expected diminishing product inventory overhang will lead to a sustained tightening of oil market fundamentals and oil prices should be well above current levels," they said.
(Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson in London and Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Chizu Nomiyama)
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