Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices declined Thursday as steady gains in U.S. crude oil production offset Saudi comments during the previous session on cuts.
Oil producers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries stood firm to their commitment to balance an oversupplied market with coordinated production cuts during meetings this week in Riyadh. Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih fueled a rally Wednesday when he said producers were firmly committed to a balanced market.
"In other words, OPEC wants to get us into a daily supply deficit and cause a spike in prices," Phil Flynn, the senior market analyst for the PRICE Futures Group in Chicago, said in market commentary emailed to UPI.
The OPEC effort has set a floor under the price of crude oil at around $50 per barrel, which is enough to stimulate more U.S. shale oil production, a sector that's been more resilient to historically low crude oil prices than expected.
Federal data show total U.S. crude oil production increased 20,000 barrels per day last week to 10.3 million barrels per day. That's more than Saudi Arabia and a level that's offsetting OPEC's efforts to some degree.
Wednesday's rally was fueled further by data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing crude oil inventories gained less than analysts had expected. Geoffrey Craig, the oil futures editor for Platts, said in an emailed market report that inventories are still "bloated' when compared to pre-2015 levels.
The price for Brent crude oil was down 1.1 percent as of 9:22 a.m. EST to $63.66 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was down 0.73 percent to $60.16 per barrel.
Oil prices topped $70 per barrel in January, but have seen spillover pressure from the slump in the equities market, a downturn driven by inflationary fears.
"Like stocks, the correction in oil was overdue, healthy and does not change the bullish fundamental outlook for this market," Flynn added.
Elsewhere, the U.S. Labor Department reported first-time claims for unemployment for the week ending Feb. 10 increased 7,000 from last week. The less-volatile four-week moving average increased by 3,500.