Oilrose for the first time in three sessions after the number of active rigs fell in the U.S., potentially easing a supply glut.
Futures advanced as much as 1.1 percent in New York, paring a 4.8 percent loss in the previous two sessions. Rigs targeting oil in the U.S. fell by 15 to 372, according to Baker Hughes Inc. More than 150 have been parked since the start of the year.
US data last week showed inventories rose by more than three times what was forecast, while imports increased to the highest since June 2013. Trading was closed Friday for the Good Friday holiday.
“The supply-and-demand dynamic has helped out,” Chris Weston, a Melbourne-based chief market strategist at IG Ltd., said.
“A lot of people have been saying that they are looking at the rig count because oil prices have obviously moved up quite nicely, and there was a view that we could start seeing it expand above $40.”
Oil has climbed back from a 12-year low earlier this year on speculation the global surplus will ease as U.S. output declines and major producers including Saudi Arabia and Russia proposed an output freeze.
Iran and Libya are the only two OPEC members that haven’t pledged to attend production cap talks next month.
West Texas Intermediate oil for May delivery gained as much as 44 cents to $39.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $39.82 at 1:03 p.m. Singapore time. Total volume traded was about 52 percent below the 100-day average. Prices dropped 33 cents to settle at $39.46 a barrel on Thursday.
Brent for May settlement rose as much as 33 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $40.77 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices slipped 1.8 percent last week. The global benchmark crude traded at a 94-cent premium to WTI.
The number of bets on rising oil has barely increased as crude jumped 50 percent since Feb. 11. Meanwhile, the liquidation of short positions during the last seven weeks covered by data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission was the largest in records going back a decade. That suggests the upward pressure on prices has come from traders cashing out of bearish wagers.
Rig counts; Iran investment: