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Oil rebounds as OPEC output cuts seen deeper than expected

BEIJING/SINGAPORE: Oil prices climbed on Friday, claiming back ground from a tumble of 5 percent in the previous session

December 21, 2018

BEIJING/SINGAPORE: Oil prices climbed on Friday, claiming back ground from a tumble of 5 percent in the previous session, on signs that OPEC's output cuts that start next month will be deeper than expected.

Benchmark Brent crude futures were up 41 cents, or 0.75 percent, at $54.76 per barrel at 0836 GMT, after dropping $2.89 in the previous session. Front-month Brent is set to lose around 9 percent this week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 45 cents, or 1 percent, to $46.34 per barrel. WTI is on course to decline about 9.5 percent for the week.

Crude prices have lost ground along with major equity markets as investors fret about the strength of the global economy heading into next year. Further concerns were raised as the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer, may have a government shutdown later on Friday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)plans to release a table detailing the output cut quotas for its members and allies such as Russia in its effort to shore up the price of crude, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said in a letter reviewed by Reuters on Thursday.

To reach the proposed cut of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), the effective reduction for member countries was 3.02 percent, Barkindo said.

That is higher than the initially discussed 2.5 percent as OPEC seeks to accommodate Iran, Libya and Venezuela, which are exempt from any requirement to cut.

"The current oil prices will force OPEC to increase compliance with the production cut deals, supporting Brent prices," said Wang Xiao, head of crude research at Guotai Junan futures.

"The temporary recovery in prices has been driven by short- sellers buying back," said Wang, referring to investors buying futures to close out positions that profit from falling oil prices.

WTI and Brent futures are down more than 30 percent from their peak in October on concerns that oil demand will drop because of a slowing global economy and signs of a supply glut.

Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at OANDA said in a note that market volatility was "getting exaggerated by immensely thin liquidity conditions, risk sentiment, and holiday market participation".

Copyright Reuters, 2018