Oil near mid-2015 highs on strong China data, tighter 2018 outlook

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose on Thursday, lifted by strong data from top importer China amid thin trading activity ahead of the New Year weekend.

Heading into 2018, traders said market conditions were relatively tight due to ongoing supply cuts led by the Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), as well as top producer Russia.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $59.82 a barrel at 0744 GMT, up 18 cents or 0.3 percent from their last settlement. WTI broke through $60 a barrel earlier this week, the first time since June 2015.

WTI received support from a report by the American Petroleum Institute (API) showing a 6 million barrel drop in crude oil inventories to 432.8 million.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $66.68 a barrel, up 24 cents or 0.4 percent. Brent broke through $67 earlier this week, the first time since May 2015 this week.

Amid strong global demand and rising investor interest, trading in crude derivatives is booming, with annual Brent and spot WTI volumes hitting a new record in 2017.