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Oil extends gains after surprise Saudi output cut

  • Saudi move 'reflects signs of weakening demand' -Goldman Sachs.
  • OPEC output rises in December - Reuters survey.
  • US crude inventories fell 1.7 mln bbl in week to Jan. 1 –API.
  • US EIA inventory data due at 1530 GMT.
Published January 6, 2021
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LONDON: Oil prices extended gains on Wednesday, rising to their highest since late February, after Saudi Arabia announced a big voluntary production cut, and as an industry report showed US inventories fell last week.

Brent crude was up 31 cents, or 0.6%, to $53.91 a barrel at 1446 GMT. Earlier in the session, it hit a high of $54.63 a barrel, a level not seen since Feb. 26, 2020.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up 6 cents, or 0.1%, to $49.99 a barrel. The contract hit a session high of $50.59 a barrel, its highest since Feb. 25.

Both contracts were up about 5% on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, said on Tuesday it would make additional, voluntary oil output cuts of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March, after a meeting of OPEC+, which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russia.

With coronavirus infections spreading rapidly, producers are wary of a further hit to demand.

OPEC+ agreed most producers would hold output steady in February and March while allowing Russia and Kazakhstan to raise output by a modest 75,000 bpd in February and a further 75,000 bpd in March.

"Despite this bullish supply agreement, we believe Saudi's decision likely reflects signs of weakening demand as lockdowns return," Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note, though they maintained an end-2021 forecast for Brent of $65 a barrel.

OPEC oil output rose for a sixth month in December to 25.59 million bpd, a Reuters survey found, buoyed by further recovery in Libyan production and smaller rises elsewhere.

US crude oil inventories fell by 1.7 million barrels in the week to Jan. 1 to 491.3 million barrels, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed late on Tuesday.

Official US Energy Information Administration inventory data for the week to Jan. 1 is due on Wednesday.

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