OIL PRICES: MORE ZHAN $55
REUTERS - Oil prices fell in Asian trade on Monday, wiping out some of the gains of the previous session amid worries lower growth targets in China could cut oil demand and ongoing concern over Russia's compliance with a global deal to cut oil output.
But worries over escalating violence in the Middle East put a floor under prices.
Brent crude futures dropped 47 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $55.43 a barrel as of 0749 GMT after settling 1.5 percent higher in the previous session.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 47 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $52.86 a barrel after closing the previous session up 1.4 percent.
"The main drag affecting markets today is the lowering of growth targets by China and tighter regulatory controls which implies less demand for oil and commodities in general," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market strategist at Oanda brokerage in Singapore.
China aims to expand its economy by around 6.5 percent this year, Premier Li Keqiang said in his work report at the opening of the annual meeting of parliament on Sunday.
That is lower than the 6.7 percent growth achieved last year.
China also plans to cut steel and coal output this year in an effort to tackle pollution, its top economic planner said on Sunday, while China's newly appointed banking regulator vowed on to strengthen supervision of the lending sector.
Meanwhile, figures by Russia's energy ministry released last week showed February oil output was unchanged from January at 11.11 million barrels per day (bpd), casting doubt on Russia's moves to rein in output as part of a pact with oil producers last year.
Despite uncertainty over output cuts, crude inventories among OECD members would normalize slightly faster than expected this year due to larger-than-expected production cuts this year and higher demand in 2016, Goldman Sachs said on Monday.
Oil prices rose on Friday as the dollar weakened modestly after a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen suggested a rate increase would come at the end of a two-day Fed meeting on March 15.
A weaker dollar bolsters commodity prices, including oil. While a rate hike would be supportive for the U.S. dollar, analysts said a near-term hike was already largely priced in.
Crude oil prices were also supported by news of increasing supply disruptions in the Middle East, ANZ said in a note on Monday.
That followed new doubts over Libya's attempts to revive its oil production after an armed faction entered two major oil ports on Friday, pushing back forces that captured and reopened the terminals in September.
"I'm surprised prices haven't moved higher given events in the Middle East over the weekend. China and U.S. interest rates are the bigger issues," Halley added.
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PLATTS - For full-year 2017, South Korea's crude imports from its biggest supplier Saudi Arabia fell 1.7% to 319.02 million barrels, compared with 324.45 million barrels in the previous year, customs data showed. On the contrary, South Korea has imported 1.77 million mt, or around 13 million barrels, of crude from the US in 2017, about four times higher than in 2016. Shipments from Russia grew to 140,000 b/d last year from 112,000 b/d in 2016.
AOG - ADNOC’s 2030 strategy, he said, aims to capitalise on predicted global economic growth and demand for oil and petrochemical products, particularly in non-OECD countries. As its business responds to changing market dynamics, the company will continue to broaden its partnership base, strengthen its profitability, adapt to new realities and expand market access.
WNN - Under the terms of the assignment and purchase agreement it has signed with Nucleus and Brookfield, Toshiba will sell its rights to assert claims against Westinghouse related to the parent guarantees in the amount of $5.788 billion, and on account of other claims Toshiba holds against Westinghouse in the amount of $2.284 billion to Nucleus, for the sale price of $2.160 billion.
REUTERS - Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $69.23 a barrel at 0808 GMT, up 8 cents from their last close, but down from a high of $69.37 earlier in the day. Brent on Monday rose to $70.37 a barrel, its highest since December 2014, the start of a three-year oil price slump. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $63.84 a barrel, down from a high of $63.89 earlier, but up 11 cents from their last settlement. WTI hit $64.89 on Tuesday, also the highest since December 2014.