Oil Extends Decline as Rising U.S. Production Weighs

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On Monday, oil prices prolonged declines, pulled down by indications of growing production in the United States that  would partially offset output cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers.

After President Donald Trump presented immigration curbs that generated criticism at home and abroad, uncertainty over the outlook for U.S policy also broadly influenced  the financial markets.

Oil trading was quiet with some Asian countries, including China, on holiday for the Lunar New Year. After the opening bell on Monday, the delivery of NYMEX crude for March declined 27 cents at at $52.90 a barrel.

Global benchmark Brent crude oil prices declined 25 cents at $55.26 a barrel at 1010 GMT, while U.S. crude futures fell 8 cents to $53.09.

The number of active U.S. oil rigs increased to the highest since November 2015 the previous week, according to Baker Hughes data, indicating  that drillers are taking advantage of oil prices above $50 a barrel.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russia, agreed to reduce production by nearly 1.8 million barrels per day in the first half of 2017 to relieve a two-year supply overhang.

“We are in wait-and-see mode, I suspect at the moment. Oil has reached a fair value equilibrium level given the current supply and demand outlook,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

“Until we get anything to really disrupt that, we may not see too much change,” he said, adding the market may draw some comfort from official OPEC figures for January production.

However,  U.S. oil output has been increasing, with the International Energy Agency forecasting total U.S. production growth of 320,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2017 to an average of 12.8 million barrels per day bpd.

“The rise in U.S. output should not be unexpected,” ANZ bank said in a note.

“However, we expect the reductions being made by OPEC will far exceed any rise in the U.S. and quickly reduce the global inventory that has been built up over the past two years,” it added.

Hedge funds and money managers boosted bullish wagers on U.S.crude oil to the highest level since mid-2014, the Commodity FuturesTrading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday, as agreed output cuts by the world’s top producers began to eat into a global glut.

In addition, on Sunday, President Donald Trump justified  his move to ban entry of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority nations and stated the United States would continue issuing visas for all countries in the next 90 days as he faced increasing criticism at home and abroad and new demonstrations in U.S. cities.

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