Oil held near a three-month high as industry data signalled a limited increase in American crude stockpiles and traders speculated that the US and China are moving closer to a trade deal.

Futures were little changed in New York after the American Petroleum Institute was said to report a 1.26 million-barrel weekly gain in crude inventories. That’s less than half the 3.1 million-barrel jump forecast in a Bloomberg survey.

Crude has rallied about 25 per cent this year after the Opec+ coalition got off to a strong start with their output cuts, led by higher-than-pledged reductions by Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih said he expects markets to balance by April. Still, the trade war continues to cloud the global growth outlook.

The March contract expired Wednesday after rising 83 cents to $56.92, the highest settlement since November 12.

“Opec+’s strategy of implementing production cuts in order to remove the oversupply from the market and thus drive up oil prices has worked,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG.

The API data also showed that gasoline inventories fell by 1.55 million barrels last week, while distillate stockpiles dropped by 758,000 barrels.