Oil prices mixed in choppy trade, rising U.S. production weighs

Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:52pm EDT
 
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By Julia Simon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices ended mixed on Thursday after a seesaw trading session, as investors weighed rising U.S. production against geopolitical uncertainties and comments from leading Gulf oil producers that an extension to OPEC-led supply cuts was likely.

The benchmark U.S. crude contract, West Texas Intermediate futures, settled down 17 cents for a fourth straight day of losses, to $50.27 a barrel. Brent futures posted modest gains, however, ending up 6 cents to $52.99 a barrel.

OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signaled that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russia, would likely extend their oil output cut beyond June.

At a press conference in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that "there is consensus building but it's not done yet."

James Williams, president of energy consultant WTRG Economics in London, Arkansas, said the minister's bullish statement did not lift prices much because of growing U.S. shale production.

“You would have thought that that would have reversed yesterday’s fall, but it didn’t," he said. "We’re getting a little bit of price recovery, but it's still not enough to reverse the shale threat.”

On Wednesday, crude prices tumbled more than 3.5 percent as U.S. government data showed domestic crude stocks fell less than expected in the latest week and gasoline stocks posted a surprising 1.5-million-barrel build.

U.S. crude oil production rose to 9.25 million barrels per day, official data showed, up almost 10 percent since mid-2016. U.S. inventories of 532 million barrels remained near all-time records reached in March.   Continued...

 
A gas station attendant pumps fuel into a customer's car at PetroChina's petrol station in Beijing, China, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon