Oil prices rise in thin
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[March 28, 2016]
By Ahmad Ghaddar
LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices firmed in
thin Easter holiday trading on Monday, adding to gains in recent weeks
as optimism holds that a production freeze among major producers may be
Brent crude futures were up 25 cents at $40.69 per barrel at 0916
GMT. Last week, the contract fell 76 cents, or nearly 2 percent, in
its first decline in five weeks.
U.S. crude's front-month contract was up 34 cents at $39.80 a
Oil prices have risen about 50 percent from multi-year lows hit in
January on glut worries.
Prices have been supported by disruptions to oil supplies in Nigeria
and Iraq and plans by major producers to freeze their output at
Members and non-members from the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) are due to meet in the Qatari capital
Doha on April 17 to discuss the plan.
"There is going to be pressure on the participants in the meeting to
ensure they achieve something. Otherwise they risk the
support-market sentiment that we are seeing now dissipate rapidly,"
said Victor Shum, senior oil and gas analyst at IHS in Singapore.
So far, 10 countries have confirmed their attendance at the meeting,
with only OPEC-member Libya saying it will not attend.
Declining U.S. oil output and strong U.S. gasoline demand have also
supported oil prices.
Investors will be looking out for monthly U.S. production figures
for January to be released this week as a barometer for the
resilience of shale producers.
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U.S. crude oil production fell for a third month in December to 9.26
million barrels per day due to declines in the biggest
shale-producing states, although the fall was offset by a rise
offshore, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The EIA said this month that U.S. shale oil production in April is
expected to record its second-largest monthly decline on record at
around 106,000 barrels per day (bpd).
China's refined fuel stocks at the end of February were up 17.3
percent from the previous month to their highest level in four
years, while commercial crude oil stocks were up 1.1 percent, the
official Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.
(Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; editing by Jason
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