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By Alex Lawler
U.S. crude inventories last week fell by 7.8 million barrels, more than expected, but gasoline inventories rose unexpectedly, data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's official numbers.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, was unchanged at $52.14 at 0828 GMT, after two days of decline. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude added 4 cents at $49.21.
The focus later on Wednesday will be on the U.S. government supply report at 1430 GMT to see whether it confirms the API's figures. Analysts expect crude stocks to have fallen by 2.7 million barrels and gasoline by 1.5 million barrels.
Should U.S. crude stocks have declined, it would be for the sixth straight week - an indication that an OPEC-led effort to wipe out a three-year, price-sapping supply glut is working.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers are cutting output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) from Jan. 1 until March 2018.
The deal has supported prices but an output recovery in Libya and Nigeria, OPEC members exempt from the cut, has complicated the effort. U.S. shale oil drillers have also ramped up production.
OPEC officials met on Monday and Tuesday in Abu Dhabi in an effort to boost producers' adherence to the supply cuts, which has been high on average despite relatively low compliance by Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.
In a statement after the meeting, OPEC said the conclusions reached would help boost compliance. Still, it gave little detail and some analysts remained sceptical.
"The statement on the OPEC website following the Abu Dhabi meeting was short on substance," Vienna-based JBC Energy said.
Top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia, keen to get rid of the glut, has shown one of OPEC's highest rates of compliance and in September will cut crude allocations to customers by at least 520,000 bpd, an industry source said on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Dale Hudson)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)