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Oil extends gains on Saudi commitment to cutting output, weak dollar

Thursday, February 15, 2018, 16:02 GMT+7
Oil extends gains on Saudi commitment to cutting output, weak dollar
An employee pumps petrol into a car at a petrol station in Hanoi, Vietnam December 20, 2016. Photo: Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Thursday to extend gains from the previous session, lifted by a weak dollar and Saudi comments that it would rather see an undersupplied market than end a deal with OPEC and Russia to withhold production.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 84 cents, or 1.4 percent, from their last settlement at $61.44 a barrel at 0604 GMT, adding to a 2.4-percent gain from the day before.

Brent crude futures were at $65.05 per barrel, up 69 cents, or 1.1 percent, extending Wednesday’s 2.6-percent climb.

Prices rose on the back of ongoing weakness in the U.S. dollar against other leading currencies, further supported by rising stock markets, traders said.

A weaker greenback potentially stokes consumption of dollar-denominated commodities as it makes fuel and raw materials cheaper for countries using other currencies.

“On commodity markets, everyone loves a lower U.S. dollar,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

More fundamentally, oil markets got a push from comments by Saudi Arabia, the de-facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), voicing support for output cuts backed by OPEC and other producers including Russia since 2017 in an effort to tighten the market and prop up prices.

“If we have to err on over-balancing the market a little bit, so be it,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Wednesday. “I think we are going to be sticking with our policy (to withhold production) throughout 2018.”

Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore, said “the Saudi signal is reasonably convincing, suggesting OPEC and their partners are committed to maintaining an absolute floor on oil prices”.

Threatening to undermine the OPEC-led effort to tighten markets is soaring production in the United States, which is not participating in the pact to cut.

U.S. crude oil production rose to a fresh record of 10.27 million barrels per day (bpd), more than top exporter Saudi Arabia pumps and within reach of No.1 producer Russia.

Consequently, U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.8 million barrels in the week to Feb. 9, to 422.1 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

“Although we remain positive on crude oil prices until year-end, an interim correction into 1Q18 cannot be ruled out,” said Barnabas Gan, economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore.

Reuters

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