Oil down but off lows as Kuwait strike offsets failed output freeze | Reuters

NEW YORK Oil prices slid on Monday after a plan by major oil producers to freeze production was scuttled, but a Kuwaiti oil industry strike still helped the market to settle way off the day's lows.

The strike crippled more than 60 percent Kuwait's crude output, lending support to price benchmarks such as Brent and Dubai. Supply of refined oil product from the country also tightened from scaled-back refinery runs and lower fuel exports.

Brent tumbled as much as 7 percent earlier on Monday after oil majors from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC Russia failed to reach agreement on a plan to freeze output at a meeting in Doha, Qatar.

"The material loss in production from the Kuwait strike has helped the oil market forget about the farce from Doha," said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at the New York-headquartered Clipperdata.

Brent settled down 19 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $42.91 a barrel. It had fallen $3 earlier in the session.

U.S. crude's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark closed down 58 cents, or 1.4 percent, at $39.78 a barrel, after sliding to $37.61 at the day's low.

Brent's premium versus WTI was at its widest in nearly two months.

While fallout from the Doha plan could weigh on a nascent recovery in oil prices, the market may not tumble as much as it did earlier this year, when Brent hit 12-year lows of around $27 in late January, some analysts said.

"Gradually declining non-OPEC production as well as planned maintenance in the face of resilient oil demand in Q1 have recently pointed to improving oil fundamentals," analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a note, referring to the first quarter.

A weakening U.S. dollar and the mostly steady climb in global equities since February was supportive to oil too, traders said.

"While a few forecasters may be dusting off some old $20 WTI expectations as a result of the Doha outcome, we expect solid support in nearby WTI at the $35 mark," Jim Ritterbusch at Chicago oil consultancy Ritterbusch & Associates said.

WTI traded off Monday's lows after data from market intelligence firm Genscape showed crude inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point for U.S. crude futures falling nearly 860,000 barrels during the week to April 15, traders who saw the data said.

Even so, a Reuters poll of analysts showed crude stockpiles across the United States probably rose 2.1 million barrels last week.

(Additional reporting by Libby George in LONDON; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Bernadette Baum)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.


Updated Date: Apr 19, 2016 01:15 AM

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