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Oil prices stand still in market push-pull

29 October 2017

Saudi Arabia's energy minister earlier this week reiterated the kingdom's determination to end a global supply glut that has weighed on prices for more than three years.

Inventories of US crude rose by roughly 856,000 barrels in the week ended October 20, missing expectations of a draw of 2.6m barrels.

Crude Oil prices struggled for direction as investors weighed the recent uptick in US crude supplies and production against growing expectations that Opec would extend its supply-cut agreement amid bullish comments from Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Overnight, crude oil prices settled higher on Thursday as recent data showing an uptick in supplies and a surge in domestic production was offset by growing expectations that Opec will extend its global accord to cut output. The report also showed that production rebounded from a steep decline due to Hurricane Nate, and imports rose as well.

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However, gasoline and diesel supplies fell by 5.5 million barrels and 5.2 million barrels, respectively, according to the Energy Information Administration. West Texas Intermediate, the USA benchmark for the price of oil, was more or less unchanged at $52.21 per barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 29 cents to $52.18. Both benchmarks were down by less than 1 per cent earlier Thursday.

"Demand has been a little stronger than some people might have anticipated as we pushed out of the driving season, and that's where today's strength is coming from", said Gene McGillian, manager of research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn.

"However, rising oil production in the USA and persistently high exports from the country will be the key bearish factors".

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), plus Russian Federation and nine other producers, have cut oil output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) since January.

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"Price volatility in the oil market is expected to persist in the run-up to the November Opec meeting".

USA crude production, meanwhile, surged to 9.5m barrels per day (bpd) as daily exports of crude, diesel and other petroleum products climbed to 7.66m barrels last week, the EIA said Wednesday.

The dollar trimmed its earlier gains versus a basket of currencies following a Bloomberg report that U.S. President Donald Trump is leaning toward Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell as his pick to head the U.S. central bank.

"The trend is up, but getting exhausted", said Robin Bieber, technical chart analyst and a director of London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

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Some of the concern around oil exports from the northern part of Iraq eased after Kurdish authorities offered to suspend their independence referendum and proposed ceasefire.

Oil prices stand still in market push-pull