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Oil slides on rising US crude stockpiles, Saudi Arabia vow to keep market balanced

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Singapore May 22, 2019, 09.37 AM (IST)

Oil prices fell on Wednesday after industry data showed an increase in US crude inventories and as Saudi Arabia pledged to keep markets balanced.

Brent crude futures were down 38 cents, or 0.5 per cent, at $71.80 at barrel by 0219 GMT, having risen 21 cents on Tuesday.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for July delivery were down 58 cents, or 0.9 per cent, at $62.55. The June contract expired on Tuesday, settling at $62.99 a barrel, down 11 cents.

The American Petroleum Institute(API) said on Tuesday that US crude stockpiles rose by 2.4 million barrels last week, to 480.2 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 599,000 barrels.

Official data from the US Energy Information Administration's oil stockpiles report is due later on Wednesday.

Outside the United States, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said it was committed to a balanced and sustainable oil market.

Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which the kingdom is the de-facto leader, which started in January and are aimed at reducing global oversupply that emerged in 2018.

Because of the cuts, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said crude output by OPEC and its allies fell by 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) between November 2018 and April 2019. That has helped push up Brent crude prices by more than a third since the start of the year.

The bank said some of the cuts' impact was offset by a slowdown in global oil demand growth due to trade tensions to just 0.7 million bpd in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of this year, versus a five-year average of 1.5 million bpd.

Beyond market fundamentals, oil traders are eying the tensions between the United States and Iran.

US President Donald Trump on Monday threatened Iran with "great force" if it attacked US interests in the Middle East.

On Tuesday, acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said threats from Iran remained high.

Tensions have risen since Trump re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports to try to strangle the country's economy and force Tehran to halt its nuclear programme.
 

Story highlights

Brent crude futures were down 38 cents, or 0.5 per cent, at $71.80 at barrel by 0219 GMT, having risen 21 cents on Tuesday.