Oil prices up but gains pared after 7th straight stock build

Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:06pm EST
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By Catherine Ngai

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices rose but gains were pared Thursday after U.S. government data showed a seventh straight build in crude stocks, suggesting high inventories could undermine OPEC's move to cut output.

Benchmark Brent crude oil LCOc1 rose 81 cents a barrel to $56.65 by 11:30 a.m. EDT (1630 GMT) after touching a high of $57.26. U.S. light crude CLc1 traded up 75 cents at $54.34 a barrel after touching $54.94 a barrel.

While prices extended gains by more than 2 percent soon after the inventory data was released, much of those advances dissipated over the next 30 minutes.

Both benchmarks are near the top of relatively narrow $4 ranges that have contained trade so far this year, reflecting a period of low volatility since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other exporters agreed to cut output.

OPEC and producers including Russia aim to cut production by around 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to drain an oversupply that has kept prices depressed for more than two years.

But some analysts considered the trading range a growing concern, particularly since high compliance among OPEC members to curb output is having little upside, according to Tariq Zahir, an analyst at Tyche Capital Advisors.

"If someone told me that the OPEC cuts would be well above historic numbers, you would expect prices to be up to $60 or $65 a barrel," he said. "We're at 90 percent (compliance) last month, what if it falls to 80 or 85 percent?"

So far, OPEC appears to be sticking to its deal, but other producers, notably U.S. shale companies, have also increased output, helping swell stocks in the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO - A worker fills a tank with subsidized fuel at a fuel station in Jakarta April 18, 2013. REUTERS/Beawiharta