Thursday, 27 April, 2017

Oil set for biggest weekly gain in 2017 as OPEC eyes extension

Jeannie Matthews | 04 April, 2017, 05:15

Brent futures were down 34 cents at $52.62 a barrel at 1322 GMT (9:22 a.m. ET).

Larger-than-expected drawdowns in US petroleum-product stockpiles and gains in refinery activity raised expectations of stronger demand for crude. Still, prices are down 6.6 percent this quarter, their biggest three-month loss since late 2015, as US crude stockpiles continue to pile up.

Still, prices are down about 6 per cent for the first three months of 2017, the biggest quarterly loss since late 2015.

The U.S. crude benchmark rose 84 cents to settle at $50.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Prices for front-month Brent crude futures LCOc1 , the worldwide benchmark for oil, were at $52.53 per barrel at 0445 GMT, up 11 cents from their last close.

Crude prices rose to the highest levels of the session following reports saying that Kuwait and other OPEC countries support extending production cuts beyond June to balance the market. The indicator has shown huge gains, with the rig count doubling in a 10-month recovery and undermining efforts led by oil cartel Opec to rein in output.

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"I wouldn't be surprised to see some profit-taking ahead of the weekend after the strong gains in recent days", said Carsten Fritsch, commodity analyst at Commerzbank. SOMO, which only handles foreign sales of crude produced in areas under central government control, exported 3.269 million bpd on average in February and 3.320 million bpd in January, Oil Ministry figures published on March 9 showed.

Kuwait oil minister Essam al-Marzouq said his country was among several nations supporting the extension of a deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other exporters to limit output, state news agency KUNA reported.

Last November, OPEC agreed to cut January crude production by 1.2 million barrels per day to rebalance an oversupplied market.

"It looks like they will potentially extend the cuts", Mark Watkins, the Park City, Utah-based regional investment manager for the Private Client Group at U.S. Bank, which oversees $136 billion in assets, said by telephone. Oil inventories in the USA rose 50 million barrels to 533,110 million barrels since the first week in January, according to EIA's most recent report issued Wednesday.

The impact of this production curb was largely ineffective due to rising U.S. production during the same time.

Prices have gained almost 5% the past three sessions for both West Texas Intermediate and the global Brent benchmark after prices last week hit their lowest levels since before the deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and heavyweight producers such as Russian Federation.

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