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Oil prices rose in choppy trade on Thursday after three days of losses. While tensions in the Middle East helped push prices higher, the upside remained capped by COVID-19 related concerns and data showing a surprise build in crude stockpiles in the United States, the world’s top oil consumer.

Brent crude futures for October delivery climbed 0.7 percent to $70.89 a barrel in European trade, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures for September settlement were up 0.9 percent at $68.73.

Brent and WTI sank 2.8 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively on Wednesday – marking their biggest fall in two weeks, amid signs of U.S. inventory build-up and mounting concerns over Delta variant surge.

Israeli aircraft struck what its military said were rocket launch sites in south Lebanon early on Thursday in response to earlier projectile fire towards Israel from Lebanese territory.

Two rockets launched from Lebanon on Wednesday struck Israel, which initially responded with artillery fire amid heightened regional tensions over an alleged Iranian attack on an oil tanker in the Gulf last week.

Helping check gains, China tightened overseas travel restrictions for its citizens as part of efforts to contain the fast-spreading Delta variant coronavirus.

Flights in and out of Beijing have been cancelled, raising worries that fuel consumption will be hit in the world’s second-largest consumer.

Meanwhile, the EIA report showed crude oil inventories increased by 3.6 million barrels in the week ended July 30th, while economists had expected inventories to decrease by 3.1 million barrels.

Distillate fuel inventories also edged up by 0.8 million barrels, but gasoline inventories tumbled by 5.3 million barrels.


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