Energy: Oil prices rally amid falling U.S. gasoline supplies, rising crude stockpiles

Oil prices rose on Wednesday after data showed a hefty drop in U.S. gasoline stockpiles and an increase in crude inventories.

In the week ending April 5, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 7.0 million barrels from the previous week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

At 456.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are at the five-year average for this time of year.

However, the total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 7.7 million barrels last week, showed the EIA report.

The West Texas Intermediate for May delivery increased 0.63 U.S. dollar to settle at 64.61 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for June delivery rose 1.21 dollars to close at 71.73 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

Oil prices have rallied by far this year, supported largely by the ongoing supply cut efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies.

Last December, OPEC and other major oil producers, including Russia, pledged to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day in order to prop up prices, effective from this January.

A latest report by global wealth management and investment banking company Stifel said that the crude oil market will likely be undersupplied in the second half of this year, creating opportunities for investors.