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Oil prices mixed in choppy trade, rising USA production weighs

21 April 2017, 03:33 | Melvin Schneider

Crude futures were trading more than 30 cents higher in Asia early Thursday, but the recovery, against a rout of almost $2/barrel at the previous day's close, was more likely bargain-hunting than the start of a full correction, as the weekly counter-seasonal build in United States gasoline inventories continued to weigh on market sentiment.

Prices for natural gas, meanwhile, fell as the EIA reported a larger-than-expected weekly climb in USA supplies of the commodity. However, that level was still near a record high.

"The domestic increases continue to not only offset overseas production cuts, but potentially more importantly, they also weigh on OPEC's morale as they are watching market share continue to slip away as a result of their own policy actions", he said in his latest report.

Global fuel stocks are well above the five-year average, and Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih was quoted on Thursday as saying inventories remained elevated in part because traders were selling supplies out of tanker storage.

The energy component trades up just 0.16% at $50.93 a barrel after gaining about 1% early on Thursday.

On Wednesday, crude prices tumbled more than 3.5 percent as USA government data showed domestic crude stocks fell less than expected in the latest week and gasoline stocks posted a surprising 1.5-million-barrel build.

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Thirteen members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and 11 non-OPEC members agreed to cut production by about 1.8 million barrels a day to prop up oil prices in December a year ago.

USA gasoline stocks posted a counter-seasonal build of 1.5 million barrels, despite heavier refining activity.

OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signaled that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russian Federation, would likely extend their oil output cut beyond June.

"With questions hanging over USA gasoline demand, any further product builds will act as a brake on the oil price recovery", he said.

The WTI crude oil price and the product spot prices were not available due to the market closure on Friday.

Oil prices are on pace for their biggest daily percentage decline since early March, and US crude oil production is expected to rise in both 2017 and 2018.



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