Oil broke through $56 a barrel on Wednesday, bouncing up from early trade around $54 after separate U.S. data releases showed private sector job losses had slowed in April and crude inventories rose only slightly.

U.S. light crude for June delivery was up $2.16 to $56 a barrel by 1501 GMT (11:01 a.m. EDT), having settled 63 cents lower on Tuesday.

London Brent crude was up $1.49 to $55.61.

U.S. crude inventories increased 600,000 barrels last week to a fresh 19-year high at 375.3 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, but lagged expectations of a 2.2mmb build.

Gasoline stocks posted a small but unexpected decline of 200,000 barrels to 212.4mmb, versus a forecast for a 700,000 barrel build.

To see gasoline stocks down on the week is a good sign. The report is not far enough from the street estimates to warrant any major change in sentiment, said Gene McGilligan, an analyst at Tradition Energy in Connecticut.

Stockpiles are high and fundamentals do not dictate any surge in oil prices, he added.

U.S. private sector job losses slowed in April, coming in below economists' expectations as employers cut 491,000 from the salary rolls versus an expected 650,000 private-sector job cuts.

Crude and unemployment numbers aren't directly linked, but the energy market and the metals market are both up on the back of these (employment figures), said Rob Montefusco, a trader at Sucden Financial in London.

That was a jolt, and with a bit of a recovering euro it gives us a spurt.


The market will look for further sustainability in the results of U.S. government bank stress tests that could show signs of an economic recovery and indicate growth in oil demand.

Equity markets fell earlier on reports that Bank of America needs $34 billion in fresh capital, according to a source familiar with the results of one of those tests.

Most of the 19 U.S. banks being tested intend to hold news conferences on Friday to explain the results of the government's assessments, with about 10 of the 19 banks deemed to need more capital.

Oil has risen from the low $30s hit this winter, driven higher by stronger equity markets, but has failed to settle above $55 a barrel so far this year as the market sees oil fundamentals still weak, with U.S. crude inventories at 19 year highs.

Around 100 million barrels of crude oil and 25 million barrels of products are estimated to be floating at sea on giant tankers as supply outstrips demand.

(Editing by Keiron Henderson)