Crude Inventories Jump 4M Barrels: EIA

Petroleum prices rose on Wednesday, following news of Saudi supply cuts to Asia, even though persistent doubt over output reductions and signs of rising shipments from other producers kept gains in check.

As the clock approached noon ET Wednesday, Brent crude futures were up 31 cents, or 0.6%, at $53.95 U.S. a barrel , while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were up 26 cents, or 0.5%, at $51.08 U.S. a barrel.

U.S. gasoline prices were also up 1.7% at $1.573 U.S., on pace for only their second positive day this year.

Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said crude inventories south of the border increased by 4.1 million barrels from the week before. EIA said total motor gasoline inventories increased by five million barrels last week, distillate fuel inventories increased by 8.4 million barrels last week

Saudi Arabia, which is the world's top oil exporter, has told some of its Asian customers that it will reduce their crude supplies slightly in February.

Iraq, the second-biggest producer among members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, plans to raise crude exports from its southern port of Basra to an all-time high of 3.641 million bpd in February, keeping shipments high even as OPEC production cuts take effect this month.

On Tuesday, the industry group known as the American Petroleum Institute reported a 1.5-million-barrel build in U.S. crude stocks in the week to Jan. 6. Analysts had expected an increase of 1.2 million barrels.