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Oil markets creep higher on supply pact expectations

Reuters  |  LONDON 

By Nina Chestney

(Reuters) - Crude markets were slightly higher on Friday, supported by continuing supply cuts and expectations that an output deal will be extended at the end of the month.

Brent crude was at $64.22 a barrel at 1017 GMT, up 27 cents from the previous close and 43 cents off a more than two-year high of $64.65 reached this week.

U. S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $57.26, up 9 cents and also not far from this week's peak of $57.92, its highest in more than two years.

The higher prices are a result of efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to tighten the market by cutting output, as well as strong demand and rising political tensions.

There are also expectations in the market that OPEC's next meeting on Nov. 30 will agree to extend cuts beyong the current expiry date in March 2018.

"Clearly the market is still convinced that OPEC will succeed in tightening the market to a sufficient extent by extending its production cuts. Attention is therefore paid to any that supports this view," Commerzbank analysts said.

"Even significantly weaker Chinese crude imports in October and an increase in U. S. crude production to a record level failed to exert any lasting pressure on prices."

On Friday Saudi-owned Al Hayat newspaper cited UAE Energy Minister Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroui as saying that producers will have little difficulty taking a decision on extending the pact.

"The market needs a bit of a correction.

No one is talking about not extending the cut," he told the newspaper, adding that it is more a case of deciding on the duration of an extension.

Also supporting prices is strong demand in southeast Asia, where the number of tankers holding in storage around Singapore and Malaysia has halved since June.

However, technicals signal that gains might not be sustained, some analysts say.

"The uptrend that has dominated futures contracts for most of the last five months is still in place, but it is beginning to look weary," said Robin Bieber, chart analyst at brokerage PVM Associates.

"RBOB's (gasoline futures) action is evidence of this. Watch the five-day moving averages very carefully. The trend is OK while these are intact - below, and the contracts are very vulnerable to a correction lower to the eight-day moving averages," he added.

U. S. bank Goldman Sachs also warned of greater price volatility ahead, citing rising tensions in the Middle East, especially between OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Iran, along with soaring U. S. production.

(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by David Goodman)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, November 10 2017. 16:41 IST