Crude Oil Stable Near $48 Ahead Of Inventories

Last week Tuesday, oil fell to the lows of the year, below $48, after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' monthly report showed that Saudi Arabia's output was above 10 million barrels in February.

According to the Energy Information Administration, crude stocks hit 533.1 million barrels after surging 5 million barrels in the week to March 17, almost double analysts' expectations for a 2.8 million-barrel gain, as imports soared 1.1 million barrels per day.

Oil dropped as US crude supplies rose to an all-time high while investors await a meeting between OPEC and its allies that may signal whether they'll extend output curbs.

Although the United States isn't part of the OPEC, the markets have also been concerned increasingly on the US's role in the crude market given the rising daily production and stockpiles. "Expect to see increases on balance over the next six to eight weeks".

To shore up persistently weak oil prices, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and 11 non-OPEC producers, including Russian Federation, agreed in November 2016 to trim production by a total of 1.8 million barrels per day. The nation's crude output has climbed to 9.1 million barrels a day, the most since February previous year, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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Stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub for WTI may be a particular focus in the API data.

As Reuters reports, "Crude stocks in the world's top oil consumer have been building since the beginning of the year and undermining hopes that an OPEC-led deal to cut production will reduce a persistent global glut".

Stocks at Cushing rose in the week to March 10, helping to widen the premium for Brent over WTI WTCLc1-LCOc1 . That gap now stands at around $2.82 for May delivery, its highest since the end of January.

Analysts say speculative investors are likely to keep reducing bullish positions, thanks to optimism amongst US producers boosting drilling activity, which in part will offset OPEC attempts at reducing supply. The Platts survey forecast a fall of 2.25 million for gasoline and fall of 1 million for distillates.

The market has declined despite indications on Tuesday that OPEC members increasingly favour extended production cuts but want the backing of non-OPEC oil producers, such as Russian Federation, which have yet to deliver fully on existing reductions.

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