Oil In Limbo Below USD50, Inventories Eyed

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U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures added 21 cents, or 0.4 percent, by 0123 GMT, but remained below the $50 mark pierced late last week, at $49.44 a barrel.

Last week, prices plummeted about 7 percent partly on signs that rising USA shale production offset efforts by OPEC and other producers to cut output by nearly 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of the year.

Many in the market still expect the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to renew its production cuts for another six months. Thus, unless Saudi Arabia is ready to lead an even bigger OPEC production cut, oil prices are likely to stay grounded for the foreseeable future.

Oil prices rebounded from earlier losses on Wednesday after data showed a larger-than-expected falloff in USA crude inventories, a salve for investors after several days of declines founded on worries about the slow pace of global efforts to reduce a glut.

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"Both Brent and USA benchmarks remain in downtrends from mid-April highs, with hurdles to be cleared at $52.70 and $50.50 respectively".

After markets closed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute said that US oil inventories unexpectedly rose by 897,000 barrels in the week ended April 21.

"We had another rise in the rig count, which will send output higher, while Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation are being cagey about extending the cuts", John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy, said by telephone. In January the deal managed to lift the price of crude futures to more than $58 per barrel. WTI has fallen for seven of the past eight sessions.

Oil prices rose earlier in Monday's session after last week's recommendation by a panel of OPEC and other producers to extend output cuts into the second half of 2017.

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Brent crude oil prices failed to capitalize on the weekend optimism surrounding the results of the first round of presidential voting in France, with the pro-European Union candidate Emmanuel Macron now facing off against far-left candidate Marine Le Pen.

Concerns of oversupply in the oil market have dragged prices down, Kloza noted, and paired with "a lot of weak charts and a lot of technical selling really brought the market back down to earth". WTI is now trading at $49.1 per barrel.

Undoubtedly, OPEC is hoping an extension of cuts will have a more lasting effect, delivering true stability to markets and lifting prices up to $60. He also added that "In our view, the drop had more to do with correcting the prior excess optimism and speculative excess, than with any shift in the underlying fundamental scenario, but those requiring a fundamental explanation. will focus on OPEC or US production growth instead". USA explorers added five oil rigs last week to cap the longest stretch of gains since 2011, Baker Hughes Inc. data show.

As has been the case since the beginning of the year, the main dynamic is how the OPEC production cuts stack up against the pace of growth from USA shale and others.

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Yet some analysts said there were signs of a tightening market.

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