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Oil prices notch early loss on North American recovery

Overseas shares turn lower as investors look to safe haven assets amid Trump uncertainty.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Oil prices turn lower along with broader markets as traders look to safe-haven assets like gold amid an uncertain era under U.S. President Donald Trump. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI
Oil prices turn lower along with broader markets as traders look to safe-haven assets like gold amid an uncertain era under U.S. President Donald Trump. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The lingering impacts of the rebound in North American drilling activity and overseas pessimism over U.S. President Trump sent oil prices lower early Monday.

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported a net increase in North American exploration and production activity. The United States added 35 rigs for the week ending Jan. 13 and Canada added 27. Combined, both countries showed a net rebound in activity from the same period last year.

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The North American rebound corresponds with the steady rise in crude oil prices since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries coordinated a managed decline policy aimed at erasing the oversupply that sent oil prices plummeting to historic lows last year. A compliance committee met during the weekend and confirmed parties to the agreement were about 300,000 barrels per day short of their stated benchmarks.

A midday note from brokerage PVM said industry watchers had largely shrugged off the OPEC meeting and instead focused elsewhere by early Monday.

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"Iraq's oil minister did his best to reverse the downbeat tone by claiming the OPEC member's output has been cut by 180,000 bpd but his comments fell on deaf ears," the emailed note read.

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The price for Bent crude oil was down 1 percent from Friday's close to trade at $54.91 per barrel about an hour before trading opened in New York. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for oil, was lower by 1.3 percent to $52.50 per barrel.

High levels of oil production in North America and elsewhere pushed oil prices lower last year because demand couldn't keep up.

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Overseas, European shares turned sharply lower as traders there moved into safe-haven assets like gold as they tried to figure out how policies from a protectionist U.S. President Donald Trump would play out across the broader economy.

Trump began his first full week in office with a move to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which could dramatically overhaul relations with two of his country's top trading partners, Canada and Mexico. Media reports early Monday said Trump's first executive action would be to move out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Elsewhere, a request from Equatorial Guinea to join OPEC could influence managed decline arrangements from the production alliance. The country is the third-largest producer regionally and could add another 200,000 bpd to OPEC if accepted.

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