Oil down on US data

LONDON, March 29, 2018 – Oil prices turned lower on Thursday, erasing earlier gains, as rising crude inventories and production in the United States outweighed optimism over the prospect of an extension to OPEC-led production cuts into next year.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate WTI crude futures shed 8 cents, or roughly 0.1%, to $64.30 a barrel by 8:55AM ET (1255GMT), pulling back from a session peak of $64.83.

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., declined 40 cents, or 0.6%, to $68.36 a barrel.

U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.6 million barrels in the last week to 429.9 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday. That confounded expectations for a decline of around 0.2 million barrels.

Domestic oil production, driven by shale extraction, rose to a fresh all-time high of 10.43 million barrels per day (bpd), keeping it above Saudi Arabia’s output levels and within reach of Russia, the world’s biggest crude producer.

 

Analysts and traders have recently warned that booming U.S. shale oil production could potentially derail OPEC’s effort to end a supply glut.

OPEC, along with some non-OPEC members led by Russia, have been restraining production by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to curb the market of excess supply. The arrangement, which was adopted last winter, expires at the end of 2018.

Sources familiar with the matter said the cartel and its allies were likely to keep their deal on cutting output in place for next year as well when they meet in June.

Elsewhere, in China, Shanghai crude oil futures fell 1% to 409.7 yuan ($65.18) per barrel, pushing the new benchmark to near to parity with U.S. prices.

The latest drop takes the fall since the contract’s launch on Monday to 10%.

In other energy trading, gasoline futures were down 0.5% at $2.014 a gallon, while heating oil shed 0.6% to $2.002 a gallon.

Natural gas futures rallied 1.6% to $2.741 per million British thermal units, as traders looked ahead to weekly storage data due later in the global day amid expectations for a withdrawal of 75 billion cubic feet.

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