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Oil moves sharply lower on supply data

U.S. data show crude oil inventories continue to build.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Oil moves sharply lower on supply data
Rally in crude oil prices fades after data release shows markets still heavily favoring the supply side. Prices spiked midweek on talks of a production freeze from some oil states. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Oil prices made a sharp reversal in Friday trading as market fundamentals moved to overshadow short-term reactions to production freezes earlier this week.

Oil prices dipped lower to start the week after Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela said they'd hold output at January levels provided other producers followed suit. The move was meant to support a depressed oil economy characterized by heavy supplies. Iran, which is hoping to win back a market share in the post-sanctions era, supported mechanisms to stimulate prices, though analysts said the moves did little to erase the glut.

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Thursday's rally ran out of steam after data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported domestic crude oil inventories increased by 2.1 million for the week ending Feb. 12, which marked a new weekly record high at 504.1 million barrels.

Brent crude oil lost 2.2 percent at the open in New York to start the session at $33.33 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for oil, was down 3.5 percent to move back under the psychological threshold of $30 per barrel, opening at $29.67.

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Oil may be pulled lower on weak economic date from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. For the United States, the OECD said it estimated fourth quarter growth at 0.2 percent, compared with 0.5 percent in the third quarter. For all 34 members, the OECD said fourth quarter real gross domestic product "slowed markedly" to 0.2 percent for the fourth quarter.

Weak demand and higher crude oil supplies exert negative pressure on oil prices.

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