U.S. oil prices top $65 a barrel for the first time since Dec. '14

U.S. crude prices topped $65.00 a barrel for the first time in more than three years on Wednesday after government data showed the 10th straight weekly drop in U.S. stockpiles of crude oil.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 63 cents, or 1% to $65.10 a barrel late morning Wednesday. The contract earlier hit $65.42, the highest level since Dec. 8, 2014, when it touched $65.55 a barrel.

International benchmark Brent crude also reversed earlier losses, rising 11 cents to $70.07. It rose as high as $70.43 on Wednesday, setting a fresh three-year high.

Oil prices turned higher after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. commercial crude stockpiles fell by 1.1 million barrels in the week through Jan. 19. That put total inventories at 411.6 million barrels, the lowest since February 2015.

That was below analyst estimates for a drop of 1.6 million barrels in an economists' poll, but the report eased traders' worries after industry data released on Tuesday suggested that stocks rose by 4.8 million barrels.

The report was further evidence that production limits by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and several other oil-producing nations are achieving their goal of shrinking stockpiles in developed countries.

The drop also comes at a time of synchronized global economic growth that is raising hopes about demand for oil. Exports of U.S. crude have mostly held above one million barrels a day since the end of September.

EIA forecast earlier this month that U.S. output would hit 10.3 million barrels a day this year, the highest ever annual average production. At that level, U.S. production would decisively top Saudi production and rival Russia.