Oil Slides on Disappointing U.S

Oil Slides on Disappointing U.S. Data After Hitting Two-Month High

Oil Slides on Disappointing U.S. Data After Hitting Two-Month High

Total expects its production to grow by more than 9 percent in 2019, thanks to the ramp-ups of Kaombo North, Egina, and Ichthys, as well as the start-ups of Iara 1 in Brazil, Kaombo South in Angola, Culzean in the United Kingdom, and Johan Sverdrup in Norway. The benchmark earlier fell to a session low of $61.05 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $53.74 per barrel at 0153 GMT, up 8 cents from their last settlement. Gasoline inventories also unexpectedly dipped by 2.2 million barrels in their the first decline since mid November as refining activity slowed by 2.8 percentage points to 90.1% capacity utilization rate.

Helping to underpin prices are the OPEC-led supply cuts and Washington's sanctions against Venezuelan crude exports. "That drop in distillates is probably enough to give the entire report a more bullish tilt".

"Supply fundamentals have increasingly been turning supportive in recent weeks, but against this the market still worries about the yet-to-be-realized - if at all - impact on demand from weaker macroeconomic fundamentals".

Prices have been buoyed by a new round of supply cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies that began in January.

France's oil and gas major Total has pulled out all its personnel from Venezuela following the USA sanctions on Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA, which also blocked Total's accounts in the Latin American country, CEO Patrick Pouyanné said on Thursday.

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The European Union is considering imposing more sanctions on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro but has not discussed an oil embargo, Malta's foreign minister said on Monday.

Venezuela, like other OPEC members Iran and Libya, was exempted from making voluntary curbs under the deal on expectations that its output faced involuntary downward pressure in 2019.

However, a stronger United States dollar limited gains on Wednesday.

Though the United States published robust jobs data last week, global markets remain nervous after China reported the lowest annual economic growth in almost 30 years in January. Oil prices fell on Tuesday after a survey showed euro zone business expansion almost stalled in January.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead a delegation to Beijing next week to lay the groundwork for a meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping later this month.

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