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Oil futures turn lower in volatile trade; WTI falls below $50

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Shutterstock photo - - Crude oil futures turned lower in volatile trade on Wednesday, as traders looked past signals of future production cuts to focus on the current glut in global supplies.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in March rose by as much as $1.15, or 2.24%, to hit a daily high of $51.17 a barrel, before erasing gains to trade at $49.61 during European morning hours, down 41 cents, or 0.83%.

Market participants awaited the release of weekly supply data out of the U.S. later in the day to gauge the strength of oil demand from the world's largest consumer.

Wednesday's government report was expected to show that U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose by 3.8 million barrels last week, while gasoline stockpiles were forecast to increase by 0.2 million barrels.

After markets closed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said that U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.6 million barrels in the week ended February 6, compared to a build of 6.1 million in the preceding week.

The report also showed that gasoline stockpiles increased by 1.6 million barrels, while distillate stocks rose by 497,000 barrels.

On Tuesday, New York-traded oil futures plunged $2.84, or 5.37%, to end at $50.02 following the release of a bearish report from the International Energy Agency on global oil supply and demand.

In its Medium Term Oil Market report, the IEA said that the U.S. will remain the world's top source of oil supply growth until 2020.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for April delivery slumped 75 cents, or 1.3%, to trade at $56.74 a barrel, after rising by as much as 89 cents, or 1.52%, to touch a session high of $58.38.

A day earlier, London-traded Brent tumbled $1.84, or 3.1%, to settle at $57.49.

Oil prices have fallen sharply in recent months as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries resisted calls to cut output, while the U.S. pumped at the fastest pace in more than three decades, creating a glut in global supplies.

Market sentiment remained subdued ahead of a meeting of Eurogroup finance ministers in Brussels later in the day, amid ongoing jitters over Greece's future in the euro zone.

Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is due to meet with other finance ministers of the euro zone later Wednesday to discuss a solution to Greece's bailout program.

Athens is expected to ask for a bridge loan to cover its funding needs until September and to also propose new economic reforms to replace some of the harshest austerity conditions attached to its bailout.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he will deliver on pre-election pledges to roll back austerity measures and reject an international bailout extension, fuelling fears over Greece's future in the euro zone.

Athens main stock index tumbled nearly 4%, while the yield on Greek 10-Year bonds rose sharply to trade near the 11%-level. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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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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