EIA lowers forecasts for oil prices

Weekly US data on crude production and inventories, plus monthly reports on supply and demand from OPEC and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) this week, should provide a more detailed picture of how quickly global crude inventories are falling.

Oil prices have erased the gains achieved since November, when OPEC and other producers, including Russian Federation, agreed to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd).

Global benchmark Brent crude, according to Reuters news agency, settled up $1.49 a barrel, or 3 per cent, to $50.22 a barrel.

Based on the lower US inventories and the expectation of an extended production cut, this week has the market stabilize, including a recovery of Brent back above $50 per barrel, following steep price falls last week.

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Stockpiles of gasoline, one of the products that crude is refined into unexpectedly fell by 150,000 barrels, against expectations for a build of 65,400 barrels. API had reported a build in US gasoline stockpiles on Tuesday.

OPEC is curbing its output by about 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from January 1 for six months, the first reduction in eight years, to clear excess supply.

An OPEC-led agreement to cut global oil supplies is now due to end in June, although Saudi Arabia and other producers in the group of OPEC and non-OPEC states have indicated curbs could be extended to the end of 2017 or beyond.

Brent was 60 cents higher at $50.82 a barrel by 1255 GMT after hitting an early high of $51.09.

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Nigeria, which along with Libya is exempt from OPEC cuts, is also expected to see a jump in output soon as Shell (LSE: RDSB.L - news) tests the Trans Forcados oil export pipeline before it restarts.

As a result, Asia will now also face heavier cuts from the world's top oil exporter in June.

Underlying supply concerns will maintain underlying caution surrounding the oil market and limit the scope for further short-term gains with potential WTI resistance just above $48.50. Economists were anticipating a drop of 2 million barrels, according to Bloomberg.

US Crude oil demand remained exceptionally strong in April, averaged 17.75 mbd, 1.07 mbd higher from March 2017 and 1.25 mbd higher from April 2016.

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Labor Department reported first-time claims for unemployment for the week ending May 6 was down 2,000 from the previous week. Any increase in the price of crude oil is simply going to send more people into the oil business.

Brent and USA light crude futures contracts closed on Tuesday at their second lowest levels since November 29, the day before OPEC announced it would cut output in the first half of 2017.

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