MTECHTIPS;-Oil rises on China demand forecast, but ample supplies

MTECHTIPS;-Oil rises on China demand forecast, but ample supplies hold prices back

MTECHTIPS- Oil prices rose on Thursday, supported by expectations of strong demand growth in China and signs that OPEC members are starting to cut output, but markets were still held back by rising U.S. crude inventories and plentiful global supplies. Prices for Brent crude futures (LCOc 1), the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $55.30 a barrel at 0717 GMT, up 20 cents from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures (CLc1) were trading at $52.32 a barrel, up 7 cents. Traders said Brent was receiving support from record Chinese car sales, which grew 13.7 percent between 2015 and 2016 to a total of 28 million sold vehicles over the year. Reflecting China’s growing fuel consumption, its net crude imports will rise 5.3 percent to 396 million tonnes (around 8 million barrels per day) in 2017, state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) said on Thursday. Its total crude demand will hit a record 594 million tonnes this year (around 12 million bpd), CNPC said. On the supply side, details emerged on Saudi Arabia’s supply cuts as part of efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to curb the global supply glut. Despite some February supply reductions to China, India and Malaysia, top crude exporter Saudi Arabia is focusing its cuts on Europe and the United States, shielding its biggest customers in Asia