With rising US inventories, oil prices hit 4-month lows

 23 Mar 2017 - 12:05

With rising US inventories, oil prices hit 4-month lows

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NEW YORK: Oil prices hit their lowest levels in four months on Wednesday after weekly crude oil inventories in the U.S. showed an increase above market expectations. 

Crude oil stocks rose by 5 million barrels last week, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.

The market expected crude stocks to increase by 2.8 million barrels during that period.

Shortly after the EIA announcement, American benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell to $47.08 per barrel, and international benchmark Brent crude declined to $49.74 a barrel.

Both benchmarks reached their lowest levels since Nov. 30.

Oil prices are still under pressure by high levels of crude stocks, not only in the U.S., but also around the world.

"Last week’s increase in U.S. production and stocks will do little to assuage fears that the OPEC output cuts will not be enough to draw down stocks," Thomas Pugh, a commodities economist at London-based Capital Economics, said in a note.

The deal between OPEC and non-OPEC countries to curb their output at the beginning of the year helped prices to reach $55-$60 per barrel range in the first two months of the year. However, this gave more incentive to American oil producers to increase their output. 

U.S. oil production rose above the critical threshold of 9 million barrels per day a month ago, and reached 9.13 mbpd last week, according to the EIA. 

OPEC and Russia-led non-OPEC countries are expected to assess crude prices and global inventories in the coming months and decide whether to extend the deal another six months when it expires by July.