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Oil Futures Rise as Investors Comb Through Data, Weigh Geopolitical Risks

August 9, 2017 at 16:58 by Andrew Moran

Amid new industry data and growing geopolitical risks, oil prices traded in and out of positive territory midweek. With North Korea acting belligerently towards the West and concerns that global crude supplies are not shrinking, oil futures are shifting from green to red – and vice versa –throughout the trading session.

September West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures rose $0.15, or 0.31%, to $49.32 per barrel at 16:41 GMT on Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. US crude has been trading around the $49 mark for the past week, though oil prices have been surging for the past three weeks.

Brent, the international benchmark for oil prices, is rallying in the middle of the trading week. October Brent crude futures climbed $0.30, or 0.58%, to $52.44 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), US crude stockpiles declined by 6.5 million barrels to 1.15 billion barrels in the week ending August 4. US oil production jumped by 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) to around 9.3 million bpd. Gasoline stocks increased 3.4 million barrels to 231 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles tumbled by 1.7 million barrels.

The EIA added that the increase in active oil rigs in July was the smallest since June 2016, when the government launched its own count.

Gains in crude prices were offset by doubts that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will reach full compliance to supply cuts. OPEC, Russia, and other oil producers have agreed to slash output to 1.8 million bpd from January 1 to March 2018. Saudi Arabia is adamant about cutting production levels to help ease the international supply glut. Libya and Nigeria are exempt from the arrangement, which is impacting global supply levels because of their production recovery.

Financial markets have been hit over rising tensions in Asia. This week, President Donald Trump warned of “fire and fury” over North Korea’s constant missile firing tests and threats to US soil.

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