Oil nudges down ahead of U.S. data; OPEC jostling weighs

Oil nudges down ahead of U.S. data; OPEC jostling weighs

Oil prices fell yesterday as Iraq said it wanted to be exempt from an Opec deal to cut production, though losses were capped by Iran saying it would encourage other members to join an output freeze.

"Crude oil prices laboured under the weight of various OPEC members seeking exemption from the production cut agreement", ANZ bank said on Tuesday.

Analysts polled by Reuters said crude stocks probably rose 1.7 million barrels last week, lifting their earlier assessment of 800,000 barrels.

Before this week, oil prices had surged about 13 per cent in three weeks since OPEC announced on September 27 its first planned output cut in eight years to combat the steep slump in crude prices from 2014 highs above US$100 a barrel.

The verbal jockeying among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) continued ahead of a November 30 meeting that could cut output, with Iraq emerging as a possible dissenter and non-member Russian Federation as a potentially compliant collaborator.

OPEC, at the end of an informal meeting on September 28, agreed to cut production to a range of 32.5 million barrels per day to 33 million bpd from around 33.5 million bpd.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell by 4 cents to $50.48 a barrel.

"OPEC has gone through good times and conditions for more than half a century and hard ones too, and the current stage is the hardest one", Barkindo said during a visit to Baghdad in remarks distributed by Iraq's Oil Ministry. Indonesia's state oil producer said on Tuesday it was targeting a 42 percent increase in output next year.

Also pressuring the market, USA oil rigs rose by 11 last week, the first double-digit increase since August.

"We are optimistic that oil prices will continue to improve in the future", Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said after the meeting.

United States gasoline prices hit $1.14 per gallon on February 8, 2016, the lowest in 12 years.

Geoffrey Craig, a futures editor for Platts, said that, with exploration and production activity on the rise, supply-side pressures could be building along with higher crude oil prices.

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