Oil Hits Near 4-Year Peak as Crude Supplies Fall

Oil prices rose to their highest levels since late 2014 after government data indicated U.S. crude stockpiles fell last week and as the market continued to worry about supply disruptions.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures hit $68.45 U.S., a fresh high going back to Dec. 2, 2014. The contract was last up $1.44, or 2.2%, at $67.96 U.S.

Brent crude oil futures rose $1.34, or 1.9%, to $72.92 U.S. a barrel by late morning Wednesday. It earlier touched $73.41, matching an intraday high going back to Nov. 28, 2014.

Data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed commercial crude inventories dropped by 1.1 million barrels in the week through April 13.

Stockpiles of gasoline also dropped by three million barrels, while distillates fuels including diesel declined by 3.1 million barrels.

Gasoline demand was nearly 9.9 million barrels a day.

Crude futures were already higher ahead of the release after the American Petroleum Institute reported a one-million-barrel drop on Tuesday afternoon.

At current levels, futures are approaching levels not seen since Thanksgiving of 2014, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries refused to take steps to stop a decline in oil prices, sparking an even sharper drop.

OPEC has since reversed course, reaching a deal with Russia and other oil producers to cut output by 1.8 million barrels a day starting in January 2017.