Europe's biggest oil company stocks notched solid gains Tuesday as crude prices continued to rise on increased bets that OPEC's production cut discipline will offset rising U.S. supply signals.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas index was quoted 1.44% higher at 12:15 GMT, paced by a 2.2% gain for BP plc (BP - Get Report) and a 1.32% advance for Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B - Get Report) . Norway's state-owned producer, Statoil SA (STO) , was also on the move, rising 1.7% in Oslo to change hands at Nrk150.10 each.
Crude prices have been accelerating for the past two sessions following data from the InterContinental Exchange indicating investors have placed the most bets for rising Brent oil prices on record. Official figures from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, published last week, were similarly bullish despite unprecedented discipline from OPEC members in maintain agreed production cuts.
"All countries involved remain resolute in the determination to achieve a higher level of conformity," OPEC general secretary Mohammad Barkindo said earlier Monday. "We will continue to focus on the level of inventory drawdown to bring the level closer to the five-year industry average."
WTI futures for April delivery were quoted at $54.60 per barrel mid-day in London, up 1.14% from Monday's close. Brent contracts for the same month, the global benchmark, were trading 1.63% higher to change hands at $57.02 per barrel.
The U.S. Department of Energy will publish its next set of crude data Thursday, one day later than usual, following last week's record build of 9.5 million which took commercial stocks to an all-time high of 518 million barrels. U.S. drillers also added oil rigs to their production lines for a fifth consecutive week, according to data from energy services group Baker Hughes, lifting the total to an 18-month high of just under 600.
Energy companies in Europe were also boosted by data showing private sector activity in the single currency area surged to the highest level in six years in February, with manufacturing input costs -- linked to higher global commodity prices -- accelerating at the fastest pace since May 2011.