Oil Hovers in Tight Trading Range Amid Global Supply Tug of War

  • U.S. rig count climbs to most since October 2015: Baker Hughes
  • Hedge funds boost bullish bets on WTI crude to a record: CFTC

OPEC's Barkindo Demands 100% Compliance on Output Cuts

Oil held above $53 a barrel, after spending last week in the smallest trading range in 13 years as investors weighed rising U.S. drilling activity against OPEC production cuts.

Futures rose 0.4 percent in New York after fluctuating in the narrowest range since January 2004. U.S. drillers boosted the rig count to the highest since October 2015, Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday. Meanwhile, hedge funds raised net-long positions on West Texas Intermediate and Brent to a record.

Oil has traded above $50 a barrel since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and 11 other nations started trimming supply on Jan. 1 to ease a global glut. While Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts the market will shift into deficit in the first half of this year, U.S. crude stockpiles have increased the past six weeks to the highest level in more than three decades.

“Prices continue to be pulled between the contradictory influences of reports of falling OPEC production and rising U.S. crude inventories,” said David Martin, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in London.

WTI for March delivery, which expires Tuesday, was up 22 cents at $53.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:40 a.m. local time on Monday. The day’s transactions will be booked on Tuesday for settlement purposes because of the U.S. Presidents’ Day holiday. Total volume traded was about 73 percent below the 100-day average. The more-active April contract rose 22 cents to $54.

Brent for April settlement gained 33 cents to $56.14 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices rose 16 cents to $55.81 on Friday. The global benchmark traded at a premium of $2.13 to April WTI.

See also: Shell shakes up oil-trading world with brash Brent buying sprees

Rigs targeting crude in the U.S. increased by six to 597, according to data from Baker Hughes. Drillers have added 72 rigs this year. American oil production is near the highest level since April, according to government data.

Oil-market news:

  • Hedge funds boosted their net-long position on WTI by 8.6 percent in the week ended Feb. 14, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show.
  • China National Petroleum Corp. bought a stake in Abu Dhabi’s largest oil concession as the Middle Eastern emirate with 6 percent of global crude reserves looks to Asia for investment to raise output capacity.
  • Platts will add Norway’s Troll crude to the North Sea Dated Brent benchmark from the start of 2018, boosting the amount of deliverable supply to the basket by about 20 percent, the company said at its London Oil & Energy Forum.
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