December crude oil prices trended higher during the initial morning, supported by a lift in outside market sentiment and measure of bargain hunting. The macroeconomic tone gained support on reports that Japan could unveil a new round of stimulus at next week's policy meeting, better than expected gains in Chinese factory output and a surprisingly strong UK Q3 growth reading. Some traders also indicated that the market was looking toward this morning's US economic report on September Durable Goods to show significant improvement from last month's reading, offering hopes for a rebound of US growth in the third-quarter. Other supportive features in the crude oil market this morning include the delayed restart of the North Sea Buzzard oil field and comments from Iran's oil minister indicating that the country planned to reduce oil export flow in the coming months. December crude oil prices managed to recoup all of the losses seen after a surprisingly large EIA inventory build of 5.896 million barrels. EIA crude stocks are 37.492 million barrels above year ago levels and 41.477 million barrels above the five year average. Part of the larger than expected build came from a boost in crude oil imports for the week, which stood at 8.823 million barrels per day compared to 8.347 million barrels the previous week. The refinery operating rate was down 0.2% to 87.2%, compared to 84.8% last year and the five year average of 84.35%.

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