Page last updated at 22:04 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 23:04 UK

Oil prices rise to six-month high

Oil well in Bahrain
Oil prices have almost doubled since January

Oil prices have hit six-month highs, breaking through $62 a barrel after data showed a fall in US oil supplies for a second straight week.

US light crude rose to $62.04 a barrel, while London Brent climbed to $60.59.

US crude slipped below $60 on Tuesday, dragged lower by official data showing a record fall in the number of new homes built in the US.

Analysts said the fall in US oil inventories could indicate an increase in demand for oil.

Crude stockpiles dropped by 2.1 million barrels for the week ended May 15, according to US Energy Department's Energy Information Administration. Petrol inventories dropped by 4.3 million barrels - a bigger decline than forecast.

"Week over week, the report is very bullish," said Phil Flynn of Alaron trading in Chicago.

Oil prices have risen from $50 a barrel over the last three weeks, as optimism about the state of the world economy has grown.

And it has jumped from $32 levels seen in January, though remains well below the record high of $147 touched last July.

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