OIL PRICE: STILL ABOVE $54
REUTERS, BLOOMBERG - Oil prices regained some ground on Thursday after steep losses the previous day, as Kuwait said it expected an OPEC-led effort to cut supplies would be extended beyond the middle of the year.
Brent crude futures were at $53.34 per barrel at 0715 GMT (3:15 a.m. ET), up 41 cents, or 0.77 percent, from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 32 cents, or 0.63 percent, to $50.76 a barrel.
Traders said that the gains followed comments by OPEC-members Saudi Arabia and Kuwait that an effort by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, including Russia, to cut output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) during the first half of the year would be extended beyond June.
A reduction in commercial U.S. crude stocks, which fell by 1 million barrels last week to 532.34 million barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), also supported prices, traders said.
The price increases on Thursday followed a more than 3.5 percent drop in both crude benchmarks during the previous session after the EIA reported surging gasoline inventories as well as another rise in U.S. crude oil production to 9.25 million barrels per day (bpd), up almost 10 percent since mid-2016.
U.S. gasoline stocks posted a counter-seasonal build of 1.5 million barrels, because of rising refining activity.
Traders said that the rising U.S. crude production posed a concern that the oil supply overhang would continue, while the jump in gasoline stocks implied a stutter in demand.
"The fact that gasoline stocks rose... worried traders that demand is not as strong as many thought," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
Overall, global fuel markets remain bloated, and Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih was quoted on Thursday in an interview with the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper that supplies remained elevated in part because traders were selling supplies out of tanker storage.
In China, an ongoing fuel supply overhang is persisting as there were signs that Chinese refiners were using record crude oil imports to produce more fuel like gasoline and diesel than the country can absorb.
China's March gasoline output rose 2.5 percent year on year to 11.24 million tonnes, the highest level since at least April 2014, data from China's National Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday, adding fuel into an Asian market that is already well supplied.
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AN - China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) is willing to invest $3 billion in its existing oil and gas operation in Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Sunday following a meeting with the Chinese in Abuja.
REUTERS - Production at Libya’s giant Sharara oil field was expected to fall by at least 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) on Saturday after two staff were abducted in an attack by an unknown group, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said.
IMF - Output grew by 3.8 percent in 2017, underpinned by a resilient non-hydrocarbon sector, with robust implementation of GCC-funded projects as well as strong activity in the financial, hospitality, and education sectors. The banking system remains stable with large capital buffers. Growth is projected to decelerate over the medium term.
IMF - Higher oil prices and short-term portfolio inflows have provided relief from external and fiscal pressures but the recovery remains challenging. Inflation declined to its lowest level in more than two years. Real GDP expanded by 2 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of last year. However, activity in the non-oil non-agricultural sector remains weak as lower purchasing power weighs on consumer demand and as credit risk continues to limit bank lending.