USA crude oil inventories drop slightly last week: API

Oil falls after Russia preaches patience rather than production cuts

Oil falls after Russia preaches patience rather than production cuts

Brent crude oil futures, the global benchmark for oil prices, were at $66.37 a barrel at 0752 GMT, down 42 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last close.

Portfolio managers have sold the equivalent of 553 million barrels of crude and fuels in the last seven weeks, the largest reduction over a comparable period since at least 2013.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures, were up 70 cents, or 1.3 per cent, at US$54.13 a barrel. The worldwide benchmark fell as much as 5.1 percent to $63.36, the lowest since early March. WTI prices have fallen more than 30 percent from their near-four-year peaks in early October, weighed down by surging supply and the selloff in risk assets worldwide.

"For the time being it's more about risk", said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates.

The S&P 500 index on Tuesday hit a three-week low as weak results and forecasts from big retailers fanned worries about holiday season sales, while tech stocks slid further on concerns about iPhone sales.

With the U.S. -China trade dispute threatening to hurt global economic growth, demand for crude oil is expected to drop significantly in the near term.

But investors remained on edge, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) warning of unprecedented uncertainty in oil markets due to a hard economic environment and political risk. "If we look at next year's oil-market balance, it should be well within OPEC's capability to hold back supply as needed in order to manage the market". United States president Donald Trump added pressure on oil when he said that Saudi Arabia has been "responsive" to requests to keep prices low, calling into question OPEC's resolve to trim output. Citing unnamed sources, the report also said the South Koreans are negotiating 2019 supply contracts with Tehran.

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"I never really understood the premium behind some kind of friction between U.S. and Saudi Arabia from a policy standpoint".

Oil halted a slide near $54 a barrel as investors weighed industry data that showed United States crude inventories unexpectedly fell last week against doubts over Opec's plans to cut output.

The API release is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT), followed by government data on Wednesday morning.

Saudi Arabia's oil production surged to a record near 11 million barrels a day earlier this month as the kingdom received stronger-than-usual demand from clients, according to industry executives who track Saudi output.

OPEC, Russia and other non-OPEC producers are considering a supply cut of between 1 million barrels per day (bpd) and 1.4 million bpd at a December 6 meeting, sources familiar with the issue have said.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Russia, which is not an OPEC member, planned to sign a partnership agreement with the group, and that details would be discussed at OPEC's December 6 meeting in Vienna.

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