Oil prices soar amid signs of market rebalancing

Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al Falih attends a meeting of the 4th OPEC-Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee in St. Petersburg Russia

World oil prices rising

Optimism that the long-oversupplied market is moving towards balance was also supported by news earlier in the week that Saudi Arabia plans to limit its crude exports to 6.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in August, about 1 million bpd below its export levels a year earlier.

Oil ended its strongest week this year with a surge on Friday, built on receding fears of oversupply, as US crude came within striking distance of $50 a barrel for the first time since the end of May.

Brent crude futures dipped 9 cents at $50.88 a barrel at 0950 GMT, after rising about 1.5 percent in the previous session.

USA crude and gasoline inventories fell much more steeply than expected this week and the world's biggest oil exporter Saudi Arabia said it would further reduce oil output in August.

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Short covering in the September contract contributed to the rally in the front-month spread, traders said.

The gains in Brent pushed the difference between the two benchmarks to the widest in two months.

Supply interruptions from Venezuela also boosted oil.

US gasoline futures for delivery in August were up more than 1 percent at the highest since May 24.

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USA crude stocks fell sharply by 7.2 million barrels in the week to July 21 due to strong refining activity and an increase in exports, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Reuters reported. The committee did not back capping Libyan output as it said its production was unlikely to exceed 1 million bpd in the near future compared to its capacity of 1.4 million-1.6 million bpd before unrest erupted in 2011 and plunged the nation into chaos.

USA stockpiles continued to fall this week, and OPEC insists it will curb supplies through 2018, if necessary.

But despite the move to the top of crude's recent trading range, Essner and other analysts expect prices to remain stuck between $42 and $55 a barrel.

Oil prices have rebounded over the past month due to large inventory draws, falling U.S. rig count and strong demand data, with prices rising above Goldman's September 2017 forecast of $50 a barrel Brent, the investment bank noted. In the prior week, the North American Rig Count was 1156 and U.S. rig count was 950.

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