May 28, 2020 | 2:40 pm

Oil prices closed with gains this Thursday, despite data that showed a higher than expected increase in crude inventories in the United States.

WTI rose 3.14% to $ 33.84 a barrel, and North Sea Brent crude gained 2.04% to $ 35.45, according to Bloomberg data.

The hike also reflects signs of increased fuel demand going forward, although demand will undergo structural changes, according to Moody’s.

Data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) published this Thursday showed that oil inventories increased by 7.9 million barrels during the week ended May 22, compared to the 1.9 million barrel drop expected by analysts.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma distribution center decreased by 3.4 million barrels.

Gasoline inventories fell 724,000 barrels to 255 million barrels, below the 100,000-barrel rise forecast by analysts, suggesting higher demand as vehicle traffic increases as restrictions are lifted.

“It just indicates that demand recovery is progressing, but it is not yet strong enough to be truly self-sufficient,” said head of commodity research at National Australia Bank, Lachlan Shaw.

Earlier in the session, prices reacted to reports of a possible decrease in output cuts from Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held a call to discuss a reduction in cuts two weeks before their meeting with OPEC, according to a Bloomberg report.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak met with executives from Russian firms on Tuesday to discuss a possible extension of the current cuts until after June.

Sources familiar with Russian policies said a decision had not yet been made because opinions are divided. Some argue that Moscow should wait for world demand to rebound because airlines will start operating again.

OPEC and allied nations led by Russia, a group known as OPEC +, agreed last month to cut production by 9.7 million barrels per day during May and June.

With information from .