OIL PRICES: OVER $52
BLOOMBERG - Oil extended gains above $49 a barrel as U.S. government data showed an unexpected fall in crude stockpiles, the first decline this year.
Futures rose as much as 1.6 percent in New York after advancing 2.4 percent on Wednesday, snapping a seven-session decline. Crude stockpiles dropped by 237,000 barrels last week, according to an Energy Information Administration report. A Bloomberg survey had forecast a 10th weekly expansion. Iraq plans to increase output to 5 million barrels a day by the end of 2017, Oil Minister Jabbar Al-Luaibi said at a news conference in the southern city of Basra.
Oil last week broke below $50 a barrel for the first time since December as rising U.S. supply countered output reductions by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other nations. While an OPEC report on Tuesday showed Saudi Arabia's production climbed back above 10 million barrels a day in February, it still remains below a ceiling set under the six-month cut deal that started on Jan. 1.
"Oil bulls will have breathed a collective sigh of relief yesterday as the stubborn climb of U.S. crude stockpiles into record territory came to an unexpected halt," said Stephen Brennock, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd. in London.
West Texas Intermediate for April delivery rose as much as 76 cents to $49.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $49.41 at 10:08 a.m. in London. Total volume traded was in line with the 100-day average. Prices climbed $1.14 to close at $48.86 on Wednesday after falling almost 11 percent the previous seven sessions.
Brent for May settlement advanced as much as 84 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $52.65 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices rose 89 cents to $51.81 on Wednesday. The global benchmark crude was at a premium of $2.48 to May WTI.
U.S. crude inventories fell from the highest level in more than three decades to 528.2 million barrels, the EIA said in a report on Wednesday. Oil production rose for a fourth week to 9.1 million barrels a day.
Iraq exported 3.87 million barrels a day from its southern and northern shipment hubs in February, Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said in an emailed statement.
China's in talks with Saudi Arabia for its sovereign wealth fund and largest energy company to invest in the initial public offering of the Middle East nation's state oil producer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Oil markets are still struggling to clear a surge in supply from OPEC at the end of last year, according to an International Energy Agency report on Wednesday.
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BLOOMBERG - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a Texas judge that Exxon Mobil Corp. doesn’t have a right to see privileged documents related to a $2 million fine assessed against the energy company for violating sanctions related to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.
NPD - Preliminary production figures for June 2018 show an average daily production of 1 747 000 barrels of oil, NGL and condensate, which is an increase of 88 000 barrels per day compared to May.
NOVATEK - In the first half 2018, NOVATEK’s hydrocarbons production totaled 264.3 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), including 32.93 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas and 5,864 thousand tons of liquids (gas condensate and crude oil), resulting in an increase in total hydrocarbons production by 6.3 million boe, or by 2.4%, as compared to the first half 2017.
REUTERS - Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 75 cents, or 1 percent, at $78.11 a barrel by 0308 GMT, having fallen as low as $77.60. U.S. crude CLc1 was down 55 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $73.56.