NEW YORK, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- A larger-than-expected drop in U.S. crude inventories, coupled with hopes of bigger supply cuts by major producers, pushed oil prices significantly higher on Wednesday.
The West Texas Intermediate for January delivery gained 2.33 U.S. dollars, or 4.2 percent, to settle at 58.43 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, notching a three-day winning streak.
Brent crude for February delivery rose 2.18 dollars, or 3.6 percent, to close at 63 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
"One part in this was played by a steeper than expected decline in U.S. crude oil stocks," Carsten Fritsch, energy analyst at Commerzbank Research, said in a note.
U.S. crude oil inventories decreased during the week ending Nov. 29, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a report on Wednesday.
According to the Weekly Petroleum Status Report, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by 4.9 million barrels from the previous week. Analysts polled by FactSet forecast a fall of 1.4 million barrels.
The American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday reported that U.S. crude inventories fell by 3.72 million barrels last week.
On the U.S. equities market, the S&P 500 energy sector closed up 1.57 percent on Wednesday, becoming the best-performing group, boosted by the reports.
Growing optimism that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will implement bigger production curbs was also among the factors lifting the prices, experts noted.
A meeting of the OPEC is scheduled for Thursday, while the broader OPEC+ group is due to meet on Friday.
The OPEC, Russia and other producers have been largely limiting oil supply in order to boost prices.
In July, the alliance agreed to extend a production cut of 1.2 million barrels a day for nine months. The pact runs through March 2020.
There have been reports since the beginning of the week that production might be reduced by an additional 400,000 barrels per day.
"We believe that the production cuts will have to be stepped up if OPEC+ wishes to avoid a massive oversupply and another price slide in the first half of 2020," said analysts at Commerzbank Research.
The OPEC has downwardly revised its forecast for global medium- and long-term oil demand growth, citing difficult market situations and challenges faced by the world economy, according to its closely-watched annual World Oil Outlook published last month.
The OPEC has lowered its outlook numbers for global oil demand growth to 104.8 million barrels per day (b/d) by 2024 and 110.6 million b/d by 2040.
The 14-nation cartel also said that its own production of crude oil and other liquids is expected to decrease over the next five years, falling to 32.8 million b/d from 35 million b/d in 2019.