LONDON  - Global oil prices rebounded Wednesday, with Brent hitting a new three-month high after a surprise slump in US crude stockpiles that indicated solid demand in the world’s biggest consumer.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in September jumped to $115.31, reaching a level last seen at the start of May. It later stood at $115.09, up $1.06 from Tuesday’s closing level. New York’s main contract, WTI light sweet crude for September, added 25 cents to $93.68 a barrel.

The US govt’s EIA announced on Wednesday that American crude inventories plunged by 3.7 million barrels in the week to August 10. That was far heavier than market expectations for a drop of 1.9 million barrels, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires, and signalled strengthening US demand.

Oil prices are “getting support from the latest inventory report from the US Energy Information Administration”, noted GFT Markets analyst David Morrison.

“This showed that crude stockpiles fell more sharply than expected for the third consecutive week.

“To some extent, the report counters the expectation of moderating demand as global growth continues to slow. Yet US crude inventories are still above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.”

The EIA added that gasoline or petrol inventories slid by 2.4 million barrels. Analysts had pencilled in a drop of 1.7 million.

However, distillates — which include diesel and heating fuel — increased by 700,000 barrels. That confounded estimates for a 500,000-barrel decline.

Crude futures fell in earlier deals on Wednesday as traders had fretted over the weak demand outloook.

The market had risen on Tuesday, helped by US data showing a surge in consumer spending in July and eurozone growth data that came in line with expectations, traders said.

Concerns about supply shortfalls arising from forthcoming maintenance in the North Sea also lent support, as did worries that violence in Syria could impact the oil-producing Middle East region.

In recent days, oil has gained ground from mounting expectations of fresh stimulus measures from the European Central Bank, US Federal Reserve and Beijing, as the global economy falters.

“Crude is also finding support from the expectation of further central bank stimulus,” added analyst Morrison.

“Investors are once again looking at Europe. Concerns are growing over Greece’s ability to meet the targets necessary to qualify for its next bailout tranche from the EU/IMF/ECB troika.

“Meanwhile, the problems in Spain appear as intractable as ever. This is raising the prospect that it will be the ECB rather than the US Federal Reserve who will be next to launch additional liquidity measures.”