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Oil prices get lift on signs of balance

Prices could be volatile ahead of yet another OPEC meeting this weekend in Vienna.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Oil prices get lift on signs of balance
Oil prices rebound in choppy trading as markets brace for yet another meeting on production from OPEC and non-member states in Vienna. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A rebound in crude oil prices was softened somewhat by decisions from the European Central Bank, but found support Thursday from more signs of balancing.

Crude oil prices declined for two consecutive sessions as traders sifted through the details of a decision last week from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to hold output at 32.5 million barrels per day starting in January. Some members, like Nigeria and Libya, are exempt from the deal, while Iran, one of OPEC's main contributors, has room for growth.

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The OPEC agreement hinges in part on cooperation from non-member states and meetings this weekend in Vienna are aimed at hammering out the details. Russia, one of the main contributors to the agreement, said its oil producers have coalesced around production proposals, but no concrete plans have emerged.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a draw in total U.S. crude oil inventories, but a build in gasoline. Olivier Jakob, managing director of Switzerland-based consultant Petromatrix, said that lends support to signs of emerging balance between supply and demand, a balance targeted with OPEC's production decision.

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"The crude oil stock draw does not go against the rebalancing theme of OPEC cuts," he said in an emailed report.

After falling for two straight days, oil prices recovered ground in early Thursday trading. The price for Brent crude oil was up 0.6 percent to open the trading day in New York at $53.35 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was up 0.7 percent to $50.14 per barrel.

In the broader economy, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi called for a steady hand, noting the risk of deflation in the region has all-but vanished, through pressures remain elsewhere. The governing council of the bank said Thursday it was keeping its rates unchanged.

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Elsewhere, the U.S. Labor Department reported first-time claims for unemployment for the week ending Dec. 3 declined 10,000 from the previous week. The less-volatile four-week moving average, however, showed a gain of 1,000.

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