Oil Prices Turn Lower On Surprise US Stockpile Gain; Production Up

Oil Stuck Near $68 as Questions Swirl Around Iran Nuclear Deal

U.S. President Donald Trump has until May 12 to decide whether to restore sanctions on Iran that were lifted after a 2015 global agreement over its nuclear program.

Oil steadied on Monday, reducing early losses after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would make an announcement regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, later on today.

Trump will decide by May 12 whether to restore US sanctions on Tehran, which would likely result in a reduction of its oil exports.

"Netanyahu may be the flavour of the day, but the larger issue driving this is what will Trump do with Iran?"

On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a news conference that Trump would exit the deal next month "absent a substantial fix".

West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery traded at US$67.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 62 cents, at 8.23 am in London. "I expect the market to have a good finish for the week given the uncertainty around the Iran deal", Baruch said.

Although Brent dropped by 1% on Wednesday due to tension over United States sanctions on Iran which later eased a bit after Tuesday's talks between the USA and French presidents, other factors contributing to high oil prices still remain strong.

The United States pushing Saudi Arabia to war against Iran
Khamenei said one of the plans implemented by the Islamic Republic's enemies to confront Iran is "economic pressure". Khamenei's remarks were aired a day after Pompeo met Saudi King Salman in Riyadh on a flying visit to the region.

Australia hoping to convince India to play day-night Test
The two-Test tour against Sri Lanka concludes at Manuka Oval in Canberra in a match to be staged from February 1 to 5. Adelaide Oval won't host an ODI on Australia Day next year, while the fate of the day-night Test remains in doubt.

Real Madrid vs. Leganes live stream info, TV channel
Real Madrid return to La Liga action on Saturday evening and host Leganes (20:30) - the team that knocked Zinedine Zidane's men out of the Copa del Rey in January.

But while USA producers are accelerating shale drilling in areas in the United States, higher production has not necessarily translated into stronger refining results for some oil companies.

Gasoline futures rose 0.1 percent to settle at $2.1292 a gallon on Monday, the highest since August.

While multiple June loading Nigerian cargoes had changed hands, traders said most of these were not yet promised to end users, meaning they could be re-offered. The global benchmark crude traded at a US$6.43 premium to June WTI. "We therefore see oil prices as being well supported".

"There are worries that Iran's oil exports could fall by about 1 million barrels per day from current levels", said Tomomichi Akuta, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting in Tokyo.

Additionally, U.S. crude production has soared more than 25 percent since mid-2016 to a record 10.59 million barrels per day (bpd). USA crude stockpiles probably increased by 1.25 million barrels, according to the median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

With U.S. output and exports surging, some analysts warn the 20% jump in Brent prices since February is starting to look overdone.

The U.S. dollar surged into positive territory for 2018 and broke past key levels against several currencies as a divergence between growth and the interest rate outlook versus other countries spurred investors to chase the currency higher.

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