Oil hits 1-week high ahead of U.S. supply data; Libyan output in focus

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Investing.com - Oil prices edged higher on Wednesday, hitting a one-week high as investors looked ahead to weekly supply data from the U.S., while monitoring disruptions to Libyan crude production.

Optimism that an OPEC-led production cut deal will be extended through the end of the year further supported prices.

The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude May contract reached a session peak of $48.84 a barrel, the highest since March 21.

It was last at $48.80 by 4:00AM ET (08:00GMT), up 43 cents, or around 0.9%, after rising 64 cents on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Brent oil for June delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London added 46 cents to $51.88 a barrel after gaining 52 cents in the prior session.

After markets closed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute said that U.S. oil inventories rose by 1.9 million barrels in the week ended March 24.

The API report also showed a drop of 1.1 million barrels in gasoline stocks, while distillate stocks declined 2.0 million barrels.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its official weekly oil supplies report at 10:30AM ET (14:30GMT) Wednesday. If the increase is confirmed, it would be the 12th weekly build in the past 14 weeks.

Oil has fallen sharply this month amid concern that the ongoing rebound in U.S. shale production could derail efforts by other major producers to rebalance global oil supply and demand.

OPEC agreed in November last year to curb its output by about 1.2 million barrels per day between January and June. Russia and 10 other non-OPEC producers have agreed to jointly cut by an additional 600,000 barrels per day.

In total, they agreed to reduce output by 1.8 million barrels per day to 32.5 million for the first six months of the year, but so far the move has had little impact on inventory levels.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters on Tuesday that a global oil cuts deal is likely to be extended, but that time is needed to discuss the subject thoroughly first.

A joint committee of ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers will meet in late April to present its recommendation on the fate of the pact. A final decision on whether or not to extend the deal beyond June will be taken by the oil cartel on May 25.

Meanwhile, armed factions at the western Libyan oil fields of Sharara and Wafa blocked production, reducing output by 252,000 barrels per day, or about a third of production, a source at the National Oil Corporation said on Tuesday.

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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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