OIL PRICES: ABOVE $49
Brent crude futures were at $49.02 per barrel at 0656 GMT, up 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $46.64 per barrel, up 10 cents, or 0.2 percent.
The slight rises extended strong gains from last week.
The climbing prices were a result of strong demand as well as signs that relentless growth in U.S. oil production was slowing.
"The slowing pace of increases combined with massive drawdowns last week on both official crude inventory numbers from the U.S. probably explains the positive sentiment in general at the moment," said Jeffrey Halley of futures brokerage OANDA.
U.S. drillers added two oil rigs in the week to July 14, bringing the total to 765, Baker Hughes said on Friday.
While that is the highest level since April 2015, the rate of additions has slowed. New rigs over the past four weeks averaged five, the lowest since November 2016.
"Given the usual time lag between price signal and drilling decision, the coming month, which also features the E&P (exploration and production) earning season, will be key," said Goldman Sachs.
In Asia, China's refinery activity indicates strong demand.
Chinese refineries increased crude throughput in June to the second highest on record.
Throughput last month hit 46.08 million tonnes, or 11.21 million barrels per day (bpd), a 2.3-percent rise from a year ago and up from May's 10.98 million bpd, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Monday.
The number was just short of December's record high of 11.26 million bpd.
Some, however, cautioned against too much optimism.
"There are some encouraging signs that things are getting better for crude, last weeks healthy stock draws in the U.S. and the rig count slowly but surely not increasing at the rates they were earlier on in the year, but fundamentally we are still in an oversupplied market," said Matt Stanley, fuel broker with Freight Investor Services (FIS).
Brent is at similar levels as its average price since 2015, Thomson Reuters Eikon data shows. Most price changes since 2015 have occurred in the first half, or towards the end, of a year. Overall, the second halves of every year since 2015 have seen relatively little price movement.
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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.