Oil prices extend gains ahead of USA inventory data

Oil prices retreat but set for fourth week of gains

Oil prices extend gains ahead of USA inventory data

Oil prices have been steadily rising since the major OPEC group of oil-producing nations, along with Russian Federation, agreed last autumn to maintain production cuts - credited with lifting prices previous year as they intended.

As the price of oil rises above $70 per barrel for the first time since 2014 amid investors betting that supply cuts led by OPEC will dominate the market this year, some traders are sounding a warning.

US crude futures rose 61 cents, or 0.97%, to $63.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange - the highest settlement since December 9, 2014.

Brent crude futures were at $67.66 a barrel, 4 cents above their last close. Brent touched $69.29 in late Tuesday trading, the most since May 2015.

The rising oil price comes as the extended OPEC and Russian Federation oil output cap remains firmly in place until the end of 2018.

After falling in 2017, EIA expects global oil inventories to rise by 0.2 million b/d (MMBPD) in 2018, and 0.3 MMBPD in 2019.

The American Petroleum Institute, the US trade group that represents the oil and natural gas industry, boasted Tuesday about helping to create "U.S. energy abundance" but said the industry was focused on minimizing the harmful effects of greenhouse gases associated with fossil fuels.

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Durante said oil was benefiting from bullishness about the global outlook - with stock markets buzzing, in part due to President Trump's success in pushing through tax cuts at the end of 2017. Average Asian physical crude oil prices also moved over $70 per barrel in January. US producers slowed down, cutting output by 290,000 barrels a day last week.

USA inventories probably fell by 3.75 million barrels last week, according to a survey before an Energy Information Administration report today.

A Reuters survey of more than 1,000 energy professionals found they expected crude prices to remain in a range of $60 to $70 a barrel in 2018.

Futures contracts show an expectation for prices to pull back by year end, with the December U.S. crude futures contract CLZ8 now trading just above $60 a barrel.

While chartists may point to bullish indications that the oil price has further room to climb, it isn't likely to stay there as experts agree that US$70/barrel and above is unsustainable as that is comfortably above the cost of production for shale oil producers.

A leading analyst of the National Energy Security Fund, a lecturer at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Igor Yushkov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the protests in Iran and a wave of frosts in the U.S. helped oil to nearly hit $70 per barrel.

Fatih Birol, head of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, said oil prices at $65 to $70 risked encouraging more oversupply from US shale drillers. At the same time, US refiners export both diesel fuel and gasoline as well as crude.

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