Asia markets struggle as commodity prices fall, U.S. jobs data eyed

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For the week ended April 26, the EIA said that crude oil inventories fell by 0.930 million, which was far less than expectations of a draw of 2.333 million barrels.

The pledge to remove 1.8 million barrels per day from the market sparked a 25-percent rally in the price, pushing Brent crude to 18-month highs.

US crude output is at its highest since August 2015 as shale explorers intensify drilling.

QUOTEWORTHY: "The collapse in oil prices saw (benchmark West Texas Intermediate) plunge as the market continues to probe for a bottom amid oversupply concerns", said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA. "The market will get increasingly nervous as we approach late May, about the details (or not) of an extension to the OPEC production cut agreement", reports Reuters.

These data releases culminate on Friday, with the US government posting its monthly payrolls report.

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Brent crude futures, the Global benchmark for oil prices, were at US$48.28 per barrel at 0305 GMT, down 10 USA cents, or 0.2%, from their last close.

OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers look likely to extend their agreement to limit supplies beyond its June expiry to help clear a glut, three OPEC delegates said on Thursday, but they downplayed the chance of additional steps such as a bigger cut.

Crude is now back to levels last seen before OPEC and other producers said they would cut output by nearly 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) during the first half of the year in a bid to tighten the market.

Renewed weakness in China, an expected hike in USA interest rates - which could make dollar-denominated oil more expensive to holders of other currencies - and signs of slowing demand have also contributed to the dive.

As U.S. producers continue to unleash a steady, and strong, stream of shale oil into the market, it intensifies pressures on OPEC and Russian Federation to continue keeping their output capped to prevent further price erosion.

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Thursday's fall in the price of Brent crude followed weak Chinese economic data - which might threaten demand from the fast-growing economy - and higher-than-expected United States inventories, or stock piles of oil. He said traders saw $45 as an important level because the Saudi oil minister said earlier this week that prices would be kept in the $45-55 range.

OPEC is expected to decide at its meeting at the end of May whether to extend the production cut deal, with inventories still not drawing down as fast as expected, and oil prices now basically at the same level at which the deal was announced.

Both contracts slid during the session to the lowest since November 30, the day OPEC agreed to cut supply.

With a large amount of oil and gasoline in storage, market participants are also anxious about weakening demand from US consumers, particularly going into the summer season when demand usually rises.

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