OIL PRICES: ABOVE $69
REUTERS, BLOOMBERG - Oil prices hit their highest levels since 2014 on Wednesday due to ongoing production cuts led by OPEC as well as healthy demand, although analysts cautioned that markets may be overheating.
A broad global market rally, including stocks, has also been fuelling investment into crude oil futures.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.40 a barrel at 0100 GMT - 44 cents, or 0.7 percent, above their last settlement. They marked a December-2014 high of $63.53 a barrel in early trading.
Brent crude futures were at $69.15 a barrel, 33 cents, or 0.5 percent, above their last close. Brent touched $69.29 in late Tuesday trading, its strongest since an intra-day spike in May 2015 and, before that, in December 2014.
"The extension of the OPEC agreement ... and declining inventories are all helping to drive the price higher," said William O'Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia's Rivkin Securities.
In an effort to prop up prices, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) together with Russia and a group of other producers last November extended an output cut deal that was due to expire in March this year to cover all of 2018.
The cuts, which have mostly targeted Europe and North America, was aimed at reducing a global supply overhang that had dogged oil markets since 2014.
The American Petroleum Institute said late on Tuesday that crude inventories fell by 11.2 million barrels in the week to Jan. 5, to 416.6 million barrels.
Official U.S. Energy Information Administration data is due at 1530 GMT on Wednesday.
Amid the general bull-run, which has pushed up crude prices by more than 13 percent since early December, there are indicators of an overheated market.
In the United States, crude oil production C-OUT-T-EIA is expected to break through 10 million barrels per day (bpd) this month, reaching levels only Russia and Saudi Arabia have.
In Asia, the world's biggest oil consumer region, refiners are suffering from high prices and ample fuel supplies.
"One area of concern, particularly in Asia, is that of (low) refining margins ... This drop in margins could reduce Asian refiners' demand for incremental crude in the near term and weigh on global prices," said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.
Average Singapore refinery margins DUB-SIN-REF this week fell below $6 per barrel, their lowest seasonal value in five years, due to high fuel availability but also because the recent rise in feedstock crude prices dented profits.
Asian oil prices are higher than in the rest of the world.
While Brent and WTI are still below $70 per barrel, the average price for Asian crude oil grades has already risen above that level, to $70.62 per barrel, Thomson Reuters Eikon data showed.
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ARAB NEWS - Saudi's Aramco Trading Company (ATC) expects to increase its oil trading volume to 6 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, 50 percent higher than current levels, the company's top official said on Monday.
BAKER HUGHES A GE - U.S. Rig Count is down 2 rigs from last week to 1,053, with oil rigs down 1 to 866, gas rigs unchanged at 186, and miscellaneous rigs down 1 to 1. Canada Rig Count is down 29 rigs from last week to 197, with oil rigs down 13 to 135 and gas rigs down 16 to 62.
REUTERS - International benchmark Brent crude for November delivery LCOc1 was up 26 cents, or 0.33 percent, at $78.96 a barrel by 0647 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery CLc1 was up 7 cents, or 0.10 percent, at $70.39 a barrel.
BLOOMBERG - Russia's oil output is currently fluctuating between 1.54 million and 1.55 million tons a day -- driven mainly by state-run giant Rosneft PJSC -- the official said, asking not to be named as the information isn’t public yet. That equates to 11.29 million to 11.36 million barrels a day, beating the previous record of 11.25 million barrels a day set in October 2016 before Russia agreed with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut production.