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Crude oil futures push higher after range breakout

Oil prices jumped more than $2 a barrel in the previous session with the global benchmark, Brent crude, closing above $50 a barrel for the first time in a month.

Crude oil futures rose further in thin Asian trade on Wednesday after breaking out of a month-long trading range on a forecast suggesting a global glut in supply may be easing.

Oil prices jumped more than $2 a barrel in the previous session with the global benchmark, Brent crude, closing above $50 a barrel for the first time in a month.

The contract had risen 41 cents to $52.33 a barrel by 11.48 pm EDT, after settling up $2.67, or 5.4 per cent on Tuesday. But the volume was low with Chinese traders away for National Day holidays that last through Wednesday.

The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark for US crude gained 67 cents to $49.20 a barrel. The contract climbed $2.27, or 4.9 per cent, on Tuesday.

Oil prices are also being given a continued boost from the US jobless numbers on Friday that pushed back expectations for a rate rise by the Federal Reserve to next year, amid a dearth of data early this week, said Avtar Sandu, senior commodities manager at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

But the market is likely to get further direction from the release of official crude stockpile data later on Wednesday by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

"We expect slightly lower numbers and that will add another boost to the market," Sandu said.

Global oil demand is expected to increase by the most in six years as supply from non-OPEC countries stalls, the EIA said in its Short Term Energy Outlook on Tuesday.

US production, which has surged in recent years and caused a roughly 50-per cent decline in prices since June last year, is also starting to decline.

The slowdown in US output is giving heart to members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which has held production steady to force out more expensive producers, despite the pain to the finances of its members.

OPEC Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri told an industry conference in London on Tuesday that the market is improving, suggesting the grouping is unlikely to change its strategy of defending market share.