Oil prices rise, building on prior session's gains

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NEW YORK, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices rose on Thursday, following a pronounced rally in the prior session.

The West Texas Intermediate for September delivery added 1.61 U.S. dollars, or 2.3 percent, to settle at 71.91 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for September delivery increased 1.56 dollars, or about 2.2 percent, to close at 73.79 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

On Wednesday, the U.S. crude benchmark and Brent jumped 4.6 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

"The return of risk appetite to the financial markets" has contributed to oil prices, Eugen Weinberg, energy analyst at Commerzbank Research, said in a note on Thursday.

"The oil market is likely to remain undersupplied if anything even after the OPEC+ production hikes that will be implemented until year's end," he said.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC+, agreed on Sunday to boost supply by 400,000 barrels per day from August through December.

Traders also digested U.S. fuel inventory data.

U.S. crude oil inventories increased by 2.1 million barrels during the week ending July 16, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a report on Wednesday. Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts had estimated the EIA publications to show a fall of 6.7 million barrels in U.S. crude supplies.

Meanwhile, total motor gasoline inventories fell 0.1 million barrels last week and distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.3 percent, according to the EIA. Enditem

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