Oil down slightly in choppy session on mixed US crude stocks data

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Oil prices have firmed since OPEC's November 2016 agreement to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), while non-OPEC members, led by Russian Federation, agreed to cut production by 558,000 bpd.

Brent for May settlement fell 23 cents to $64.41/bbl on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, and traded at a $3.90 premium to WTI for the same month.

Moodys Investors Service today raised its medium-term price band for crude oil to United States dollars 45-65 per barrel from USD 40-60 as continued OPEC-led production restraint and strong global demand growth have contributed to declining global inventories, offsetting rapid increases in USA shale production.

However, gasoline stockpiles were down 6.3 million barrels, suggesting future demand for crude oil by refineries.

"The current healthy momentum in the global economy, together with the efforts undertaken by the OPEC and non-OPEC oil producing countries.is supporting the rebalancing of the oil market fundamentals", the report said.

China beat forecasts with a 7.2 percent year-on-year rise in industrial output in the first two months of 2018, while data showed Chinese crude output fell 1.9 percent.

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The result, says Marshall, has been a decline in global crude inventories, which has contributed to higher oil prices.

But this is what's so interesting - Increased production by US petroleum companies didn't happen overnight. Total American output has passed 10 million barrels a day, beating a record set in 1970.

USA bank Goldman Sachs said in a note dated March 13 that there was a "potentially large increase in (U.S.) drilling activity in coming weeks".

Oil rose on Tuesday, after Libya said loadings of crude at a key port had been suspended, offseting an earlier dent to the price caused by evidence of the inexorable growth in USA oil output, Reuters reports.

Weekly U.S. crude production figures will be published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) later on Wednesday.

The question of whether the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is close to achieving global supply and demand balance due to its production cuts was raised yet again on Tuesday, with Khalid al Falih, energy minister for Saudi Arabia, quoted as saying it would be better to "overbalance" the market rather than end the cutback deal too early.

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