REUTERS

Oil hit a nine-month high on Thursday after government data showed a fall in U.S. crude stockpiles last week, while progress towards a U.S. fiscal stimulus deal and strong Asian demand also buoyed prices.

Brent crude futures rose 45 cents, or 0.9%, to $51.53 a barrel at 0436 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose by 46 cents, or nearly 1%, to $48.28 a barrel. Both benchmarks hit their highest since early March, as reported by Reuters.

Read alsoDefense Budget 2021: Finance minister speaks of record spending targetU.S. crude inventories fell by 3.1 million barrels in the week to December 11, the Energy Information Administration said, more than analysts' expectations of a 1.9-million-barrel drop.

Also boosting oil prices, U.S. lawmakers edged closer to agreement on a $900 billion virus-relief spending package on Wednesday with top Democrats and Republicans sounding more positive than they have in months about getting something done.

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