By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices hit their highest levels since 2014 on Wednesday due to ongoing production cuts led by OPEC as well as healthy demand, although analysts cautioned that markets may be overheating.
Brent crude futures were at $69.15 a barrel at 0648 GMT, 33 cents, or 0.5 percent, above their last close. Brent touched $69.29 in late Tuesday trading, its strongest since an intra-day spike in May 2015 and, before that, December 2014.
U. S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.44 a barrel - 48 cents, or 0.8 percent, above their last settlement.
They marked a December 2014 high of $63.53 a barrel in early trading.
In an effort to prop up prices, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) together with Russia and a group of other producers last November extended an output cut deal that was due to expire in March this year to cover all of 2018.
The American Petroleum Institute said late on Tuesday that crude inventories fell by 11.2 million barrels in the week to Jan. 5, to 416.6 million barrels.
Official EIA stocks data is due at 1530 GMT on Wednesday.
Amid the general bull-run, which has pushed up crude prices by more than 13 percent since early December, there are indicators of an overheated market.
In Asia, the world's biggest oil consuming region, refiners are suffering from high prices and ample fuel supplies.
"One area of concern, particularly in Asia, is that of (low) refining margins ... This drop in margins could reduce Asian refiners' demand for incremental crude in the near term and weigh on global prices," said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.
Average Singapore refinery margins this week fell below $6 per barrel, their lowest seasonal value in five years, due to high fuel availability but also because the recent rise in feedstock crude prices dented profits.
Asian oil prices are higher than in the rest of the world.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)