Benchmark crude for May delivery added US$0.35 to settle at US$50.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday.
With the May contract ending next week, traders focused on crude stocks with a later delivery under the June contract.
Crude for June delivery increased US$0.31 to settle at US$52.47 a barrel.
In London, Brent prices gained US$0.29 to settle at US$53.35 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
“There’s still a lot of money out there that has to go somewhere,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy Economic Research.
“They see it as a good buy long-term,” Lynch said.
Investors see oil stocks as the ultimate safe haven, a commodity that will almost certainly be in greater demand next year. That is what has kept prices aloft this week despite daily reports showing the world economy is running on less oil, not more.
The government said this week that US storage facilities were bloated with the biggest surplus in nearly 19 years.
If that wasn’t enough, the US government, OPEC and the International Energy Agency all revised their demand forecasts, saying the world would consume even less petroleum this year than expected.
A few months ago, such news probably would have pushed crude prices to new lows.
But traders said they have already factored in the tepid global economy and have moved on. They are guided now by rising equities markets and a general hope that better times are ahead.
“Crude’s really moving in sympathy with the stock market right now,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates.
Analyst Phil Flynn also noted reports that China is pumping money into raw materials like oil to shield itself from depending too heavily on the US dollar.
He said in a research note that the move by China has persuaded other investors to snap up oil stocks as well.
“There is growing evidence that China will look to store oil and other commodities as opposed to US treasuries,” Flynn said.