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Oil gains 1 percent after Saudi Arabia pledges more output cuts

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02/12/2019 | 05:00pm EST
FILE PHOTO: A pumpjack is shown outside Midland-Odessa area in the Permian basin in Texas

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday after OPEC figures showed it cut production sharply in January, and as lead member Saudi Arabia said it would reduce its output in March by an additional 500,000 barrels.

Growing investor optimism for a breakthrough in the latest round of U.S.-China trade discussions also boosted futures as members of both sides met in Beijing.

Brent crude futures gained 91 cents, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $62.42 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures rose 69 cents, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $53.10 a barrel.

Oil prices edged up slightly post-settlement after data from the American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, showed U.S. crude oil stockpiles had unexpectedly fallen.

Crude inventories fell by 998,000 barrels in the week ended Feb. 8 to 447.2 million, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 2.7 million barrels. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 502,000 barrels, API said.

Production cuts effective to the end of June by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia have tightened markets despite rising output in non-member countries, primarily the United States.

OPEC said on Tuesday it had reduced oil production almost 800,000 bpd in January to 30.81 million bpd under its voluntary global supply pact.

Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told the Financial Times that the country would cut production to about 9.8 million bpd in March to bolster prices. As part of the OPEC deal, that nation pledged to cut output to about 10.3 million bpd.

"The market was bid on the OPEC report, the OPEC numbers themselves, and Saudi Arabia bringing the production numbers down pretty good," said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.

Investors were also hopeful that a new round of U.S.-China talks this week would bring the two sides close to resolving their ongoing trade war ahead of a March 1 deadline, Yawger said.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he could push off the deadline to hike tariffs on Chinese imports if the two sides get close enough to striking a deal.

The Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday it expected U.S. crude production to hit a new record of 13.2 million bpd through 2020, which took some steam out of the rally, traders said.

OPEC also cut its forecast for 2019 world oil demand, citing slowing economies and expectations of faster supply growth from rivals, underlining the challenge it faces in preventing an oil glut.

(Gra
phic: U.S. oil production & drilling levels -

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Additional reporting by Noah Browning and Henning Gloystein; Editing by Marguerita Choy, Lisa Shumaker and Tom Brown)

By Laila Kearney

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