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Oil gains after drop in US inventories adds to supply concerns

April 18
16:58 2018

Oil prices rose on Wednesday, lifted by a reported decline in U.S. crude inventories and the risk of supply disruptions.

Brent crude oil futures were up 54 cents at $ 72.12 a barrel by 0941 GMT, while U.S. WTI crude futures were up 60 cents at $ 67.12.

“Yesterday evening saw the API report a surprising decrease in U.S. crude oil stocks and a reduction in oil product stocks that was sharper than anticipated,” Commerzbank oil analyst Carsten Fritsch said in a note.

U.S. crude inventories fell by 1 million barrels last week to 428 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said.

OPEC’s ministerial committee tasked with monitoring the group’s supply-cutting deal with non-OPEC countries, led by Russia, meets in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and 10 rival producers have restrained output by a joint 1.8 million barrels per day since January 2017 and pledged to do so until the end of this year.

“Despite an oil price of over $ 70 per barrel and the fact that the oversupply has been eliminated, a phase-out of the production cuts will not be on the agenda,” Fritsch said.

Oil has been supported by the perception among investors that tensions in the Middle East could lead to supply disruptions, including renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran, as well as falling output in crisis-hit Venezuela.

“Oil prices are holding near three-year highs (reached earlier in April) for the time being, and with inventories back in line with normal levels, the supply glut of the last few years appears to be over,” said William O’Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia’s Rivkin Securities.

Dutch bank ING said in a note to clients that Brent had risen back above $ 70 in April “due to geopolitical risks along with some fundamentally bullish developments in the market”.

It raised its average 2018 price forecast for Brent to $ 66.50 a barrel from $ 60.25, and its 2018 WTI forecast to $ 62.50 from $ 57.75.

For next year, however, ING expects lower prices due to rising U.S. crude output, which has jumped by a quarter since mid-2016.

Official weekly data on U.S. inventory levels will be published by the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.

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