Oil prices edge off earlier gains on mixed OPEC signals

Tue Dec 13, 2016 5:03pm EST
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By David Gaffen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices edged off earlier gains to end Tuesday nearly unchanged, as the support from OPEC's plan to limit production were undercut by an energy watchdog's assessment of how much those nations are currently producing.

Prices dipped in after-hours trading when the American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude stocks rose by 4.7 million barrels, compared with an expected draw of 1.6 million barrels.

On Wednesday, traders will see if the surprise build is confirmed by weekly figures released by the U.S. Energy Department.

U.S. crude CLc1 futures, which hit a high of $53.41 a barrel in early trading, settled up just 15 cents to $52.98 a barrel, losing ground late in the session. The contract was lately at $52.39 a barrel, down 44 cents.

Brent crude LCOc1 settled up three cents to $55.72 a barrel; it was lately off 47 cents to $55.21 a barrel.

The market has rallied smartly for several weeks in the run-up to and aftermath of OPEC's first agreement to cut production in eight years. That was followed by a similar agreement this past weekend by non-OPEC countries, including Russia, to limit their output as well.

Traders said there was significant profit-taking after oil shot to mid-2015 highs earlier this week, boosted by the deal reached by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other exporters to cut output by a combined 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd).

The deal helped U.S. crude gain more than 20 percent in about a month, leading some brokerages to expect some profit-taking, particularly as it is unclear whether the proposed cuts can be maintained.   Continued...

A motorist holds a fuel pump at a Gulf petrol station in London April 18, 2006.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo