U.S. oil prices edge up as market eyes tighter supply

US oil prices edge up as market eyes tighter supply

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 13 cents at $53.53.

US imports of Venezuelan crude fell 41 percent to 345,000 barrels a day last week, the least since August, according to preliminary EIA data.

Oil edged lower on Wednesday after a report showed a rise in USA crude inventories, countering expectations of a tightening market in 2019 due to OPEC-led supply cuts and US sanctions on Venezuela.

"In a market that's looking for direction, there's concern that any slowdown in the manufacturing sector would slow down demand". The global benchmark crude was at an $8.36 premium to WTI for the same month.

However, U.S. crude stocks rose last week even as refineries boosted output, while gasoline and distillate stocks increased, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday. WTI settled 2.73 percent higher in the last session at its highest close since November 19.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russian Federation, agreed to production cuts effective from last month to beat back supply growth. OPEC supply fell last month by the largest amount in two years, a Reuters survey last week found.

Helping to underpin prices are the OPEC-led supply cuts and Washington's sanctions against Venezuelan crude exports.

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Venezuela's opposition is opening a USA fund to receive the proceeds of oil sales, a key measure to secure revenue for its effort to dislodge President Nicolas Maduro, an opposition lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Short-term, the market is getting a boost from USA sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports.

Riyadh told OPEC that the kingdom pumped 10.24 million bpd in January, the sources said.

Market participants are also watching for developments surrounding the U.S.

Global economic worries have weighed on market sentiment in recent days, offsetting support from signs that global supplies are tightening.

Though the United States published robust jobs data last week, global markets remain nervous after China reported the lowest annual economic growth in almost 30 years in January.

US President Donald Trump last week said he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, perhaps twice, in the coming weeks to try to seal a comprehensive trade deal with Beijing, but acknowledged it was not yet clear whether a deal could be reached. "China trade talks", said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

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