NYMEX crude holds gains in Asia after overnight volatility

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Investing.com - Crude oil prices eased off earlier gains in Asia on Tuesday after overnight volatility linked to fading prospects of producers acting in concert to cut output.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for March delivery rose 1.01% to $29.99 a barrel. Brent oil gained 0.35% to $32.99 a barrel.

The market is now focused on weekly data from the American Petroleum Institute of crude and refined product stocks in the U.S. That will be followed on Wednesday by more closely-watched figures from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Overnight, U.S. crude prices slipped back below $30 a barrel on Monday, after a meeting between oil ministers from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela over the weekend reportedly accomplished little headway toward reaching an agreement that could curtail near-record high production by OPEC.

More broadly, Texas light, sweet futures have crashed nearly 20% since the start of the new year.

On the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Brent crude for April delivery wavered between $32.96 and $34.66 a barrel, before closing at $32.87, down 1.19 or 3.48% on the session. North Sea brent futures also fell for the fourth consecutive trading and the sixth time in the last seven sessions.

A meeting between Venezuela oil minister Eulogio Del Pino and Saudi Arabia counterpart Ali al-Naimi on Sunday concluded with few indications that the OPEC members have moved closer to setting a date for an emergency summit, which could result in significant production cuts from the world's largest cartel.

Although a flurry of reports over the last two weeks suggested that an extraordinary meeting could be imminent, the cartel's smaller members have been unable to win the support of Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter.

Last month, a report from the Venezuelan Central Bank said inflation nationwide peaked by as much as 270% as oil fell below $35 a barrel.

Investors also digested comments from Iran oil minister Bijan Zangeneh that the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) is close to finalizing a deal with France's Total to sell 160,000 barrels per day, according to Iran news agency Shana. In addition, Zangeneh announced on Saturday that Iran is currently exporting 300,000 barrels of crude a day to Europe, a figure that could increase even further when additional deals are completed in the next several months.

Elsewhere, a survey released by Trilby Lundberg on Monday indicated that U.S. gas prices fell nine cents to $1.82 a gallon last week, dropping to its lowest level since January, 2009. In turn, refinery inventories have soared dramatically, amid declines of 37 cents a gallon in gas prices over the last 12 months.

Both the international and U.S. benchmarks of crude remain near 12-year lows from last month, when WTI traded at $26.19 on Jan. 20 and brent nearly dipped below $27. Over the last 18 months, crude futures have crashed more than 70% as global supply continues to greatly outpace demand.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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