ALSO READOil stable on lower U.S. rig count, but below recent highs Oil prices edge up on lower U.S. rig count, but below recent highs Oil dips away from mid-2015 highs as higher output looms Oil trades near strongest levels since mid-2015 on Iranian unrest Oil dips away from 2015 highs as doubts emerge over rally
By Henning Gloystein and Dmitry Zhdannikov
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures
Brent crude futures
Traders said the gains were due to a slight decline in the number of U.S. rigs drilling for new production. The rig count eased by five in the week to Jan. 5 to 742, according to data from oil services firm Baker Hughes.
"Traders may decide that discretion is the better part of valour while markets wait on evidence of what happens to the rig count and production levels over the next couple of months."
Rising U.S. production is the main factor countering output cuts led by the Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and by Russia, which began in January last year and are set to last through 2018.
A senior OPEC source from a major Middle Eastern oil producer said on Monday that OPEC was monitoring unrest in Iran as well as Venezuela's economic crisis, but will boost output only if there are significant and sustained production disruptions from those countries.