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Oil prices lower

Rising US crude stocks dragged oil lower yesterday but prices continued to find a floor as OPEC-led cuts and free-falling Venezuelan output tightened global supplies. International benchmark Brent futures were at $71,38 a barrel at 1350 GMT, down 35 cents from their last close. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were down 48 cents at $64,13 per barrel.

US crude inventories surged by 7 million barrels to a 17-month high of 456,6 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

US crude oil production remained at a record 12,2 million barrels per day (bpd), making the United States the world’s biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

“While US crude stocks built last week, a massive draw on (gasoline) inventories likely buoyed the whole complex,” Vienna-based consultancy JBC Energy said.

US gasoline stocks fell by a whopping 7,7 million barrels, sending US RBOB up 3,5 percent from its close on Wednesday.

Tightening global oil supplies also kept a lid on further price losses.

US sanctions and power outages pushed OPEC member Venezuela’s crude output to a long-term low of 870 000 bpd, the International Energy Agency said yesterday, even lower than OPEC had reported the day before.

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