Oil edges up as market eyes tighter supply

Oil edges up as market eyes tighter supply

Oil futures fell Tuesday, with USA benchmark prices settling at their lowest in a week as investors weighed concerns about global energy demand against the price-supportive news from the political crisis in Venezuela.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 35 cents, or 0.65 percent, to settle at $54.01 a barrel, up from a session low of $52.86.

However, US crude stocks rose last week even as refineries boosted output, while gasoline and distillate stocks increased, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday.

Weighing on oil markets, USA government data showed new orders for US -made goods unexpectedly fell in November, with sharp declines in demand for machinery and electrical equipment. USA sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company could also lift prices, though they have yet to trigger any sharp increase.

In an interview with Sputnik, Venezuela's National Representative to OPEC, the technical adviser at Venezuela's PDVSA company and Petroleum Ministry Ronny Romero spoke about the impact of the USA sanctions on the oil and gas giant.

When asked about how European and Asian customers could be convinced to buy oil from Venezuela, risking sanctions from Washington, he stated that now, Washington's sanctions apply only to USA entities.

Oil prices fell on Tuesday, a day after data showing a decline in US factory orders dragged both benchmarks down from 2019 highs.

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The producers' alliance, known as OPEC+, began cutting production from last month to avert a new supply glut.

Venezuela, like fellow OPEC members Iran and Libya, was exempt from production curbs under the OPEC+ deal on expectations that its output faced involuntary downward pressure in 2019.

A stronger US dollar limited gains on Wednesday.

WTI futures were up $0.46, or 0.84%, at $55.02 per barrel by 0940 GMT.

The global economic outlook and prospects for growth in fuel demand have also been clouded by poor economic data in China and U.S. Oil prices fell on Tuesday after a survey showed euro zone business expansion almost stalled in January.

Investors will be looking for clues in President Trump's State of the Union speech on a number of matters, but crude oil traders will be listening for positive comments about U.S.

Last week, China said its manufacturing activity contracted for the second-straight month in January, another sign that the world's second-largest economy is slowing down amid domestic headwinds and the on-going trade dispute with the U.S.

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