– Crude futures surged nearly 5% on Friday, as a dwindling U.S. rig count provided the clearest indication in months that concerns over a glut of oversupply in the market may be easing. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for July delivery soared 2.62 or 4.54% to $60.30 a barrel. WTI crude ended a month above $60 a barrel for the first time since November, days after OPEC rattled markets with its decision to keep production levels constant. The move triggered an arms race of sorts with the U.S., flooding the market with a surplus of crude causing prices to crash. In spite of Friday’s surge, crude futures are still down more than 12% since November 27 when WTI crude plunged nearly $5 a barrel following OPEC’s bombshell announcement. Ever since, industry experts have paid close attention to U.S. rig counts, which have fallen at an alarming rate over the last six months. On Friday, oil services firm Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) said the number of oil rigs in the U.S. last week dropped by 13 to 646, the lowest level since August, 2010. A week earlier, the U.S. rig count fell by one to 659 marking the slowest rate decline over the last 24 weeks. Nevertheless, the rig count is still down drastically after peaking above 1,600 last fall. In addition, analysts from Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) believe crude prices may have stabilized to a level that could convince producers to intensify production. Last week, U.S. crude production increased to 9.566 million barrels per day up from a total of 9.262 for the week ending May 15. “We believe that should West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices remain near $60/bbl, US producers will ramp up activity given improved returns with costs down by at least 20%,” analysts from Goldman Sachs’ Global Investment Research wrote in a note to investors. Over the last two months, U.S. shale production has leveled off as crude stockpiles reached near full storage capacity. Crude inventories, as well, have decreased markedly over the past several weeks. In its weekly Petroleum Status Report released on Thursday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that U.S. crude stockpiles decreased by 2.8 million barrels for the week that ended May 22, marking the fourth consecutive week of weekly declines. Analysts expected crude stockpiles to decline marginally by 0.9 million barrels on the week. On the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), brent crude for July delivery also soared on Friday, gaining 2.95 or 4.71% to 65.53. The spread between the international and U.S. benchmarks of crude rose to 5.23, up from Thursday’s level of 4.83. Energy traders await a critical OPEC meeting next week in Vienna, where OPEC officials are expected to keep production levels steady above 30 million barrels per day. For the month, WTI gained 1.27% while brent experienced a 2.71% decline. Both benchmarks gained more than 19% during a bullish April.