OIL PRICE: ABOVE $55 STILL
REUTERS, BLOOMBERG - Crude oil slid lower on Monday on signs that the United States is continuing to add output, largely counteracting strong economic growth in China and OPEC efforts to cut production.
Benchmark Brent crude futures were down 53 cents at $55.36 at 0836 GMT (4:36 a.m. ET). On Thursday, before major markets closed for a holiday break, they settled up 3 cents at $55.89 a barrel.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 46 cents at $52.72 a barrel, after rising 7 cents to $53.18 on Thursday.
Both benchmarks had risen last week for a third consecutive week, with Brent adding 1.2 percent over the four days before the Good Friday holiday and WTI up 1.8 percent.
While trading was subdued, the focus was on indications that shale oil output in the United States was pressing higher.
"All the signs of an ever-growing bull market are starting to fade away, (with) Libya and geo-political tensions easing, but also because the Texans are back and they are pumping like there's no tomorrow," said Matt Stanley, a fuel broker at Freight Investor Services (FIS) in Dubai. "If I were OPEC, I'd be pretty worried."
Although the failure of a ballistic missile launch in North Korea brought some respite, markets were braced for further tensions in the region.
In Libya, fighting between rival factions has cut oil output, but state oil company NOC was able to reopen at least one field and was pushing to reopen another.
U.S. drillers last week added rigs for a 13th straight week, a sign output gains there will continue.
Energy services firm Baker Hughes said on Thursday drillers added 11 oil rigs in the week to April 13, bringing the count up to 683, highest in about two years.
Increasing U.S. output is undermining attempts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other major oil producers to curb output and sustain a rally in prices in a market that has been oversupplied since mid-2014.
U.S. crude oil production has climbed to 9.24 million barrels per day (bpd), according to the latest Energy Information Administration data, making it the world's third-largest producer after Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The increasing production largely counteracted figures showing first quarter economic growth of 6.9 percent in China. Forecast-beating March investment, retail sales and exports all suggested China's economy, the world's second-largest oil consumer, may carry solid momentum into spring.
Additionally, Iran added fuel to hopes that OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers could extend their output cuts beyond the initial six-month agreement. Any cut extension could help underpin prices.
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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.