MTECHTIPS;-Oil steady as rise in U.S. inventory slows upswing

MTECHTIPS;-Oil steady as rise in U.S. inventory slows upswing

MTECHTIPS- Oil prices steadied on Thursday after a surprise increase in U.S. inventories helped stall an upward trend that has pushed global crude benchmarks to their highest levels since July last year. U.S. light, sweet crude was down 16 cents at $53.90 by 10:21 a.m. ET (1521 GMT) while North Sea Brent crude was up 12 cents at $56.34 a barrel. Traded volumes were thin with many investors away for year-end holidays, although the expiry of the front-month February ICE Brent contract on Thursday could generate some activity. U.S. distillate and gasoline futures expire on Friday, which could add to price swings as well, analysts noted. “The petroleum markets are mixed in light-volume trade amid a general wait for fresh fundamental news that might push prices out of their established ranges,” Tim Evans, an energy futures specialist at Citi Futures, said in a note. Both crude oil benchmarks have made big gains this month since OPEC and other producers agreed to curb production in an attempt to balance an over-supplied fuel market.\ “The market is in good shape although it might fail to make significant advances this year,” said analyst Tamas Varga at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates. “If that is the case the uptrend should continue in early January.” “Either way, the odds are still on higher numbers.”

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