Oil hovers near 2019 highs amid OPEC cuts

Friday, 22 February 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


London (Reuters): Oil prices hovered around 2019 highs on Thursday, bolstered by OPEC-led supply cuts and US sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, but were capped by slowing growth in the global economy.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $57.33 a barrel at 1145 GMT, 17 cents or 0.3% above their last settlement, and close to a 2019 high of $57.55 reached the previous day.

Brent crude futures were flat at $67.08 after touching a 2019 peak on Wednesday at $67.38.

Oil prices have been driven up this year by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

OPEC and its de facto leader Saudi Arabia agreed late last year, along with producer allies such as Russia, to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to prevent a supply overhang from growing.

OPEC member Nigeria signalled on Wednesday that it would limit output after its production climbed in January. US sanctions have hit Iranian and Venezuelan crude exports while unrest has curbed Libyan output.

However, analysts said that a global economic slowdown - signs of which emerged late last year - was preventing prices from surging beyond highs reached this week.

Talks between the United States and China to resolve a trade dispute which has helped dent global growth may be progressing, though. The two sides have started to outline commitments in principle on key points of contention, sources familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.

The main factor keeping oil prices from rising even further is soaring US output, which rose by more than 2 million bpd last year to a record 11.9 million bpd.

The swelling production has resulted in rising US oil inventories. US crude oil stocks rose by 1.3 million barrels to 448.5 million barrels in the week to Feb. 15, according to a weekly report by the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday.