By Florence Tan
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices edged up on Monday, with Brent drifting near $70 a barrel, propped up by output cuts from major producers and optimism about global economic and fuel demand recovery in the second half of the year.
futures for May gained 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $69.45 a barrel by 0102 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for April was at $65.90 a barrel, up 29 cents, or 0.4%.
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has cut the supply of April-loading crude to at least four north Asian buyers by up to 15%, while meeting the normal monthly requirements of Indian refiners, refinery sources told Reuters on Friday.
The supply cuts come as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, decided earlier this month to extend most of its supply cuts into April.
Investors are expecting China to release positive economic data on Monday, supporting forecasts of stronger growth at the world’s second largest oil consumer.
“China data due today could be highly influential,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, wrote.
“Both industrial production and retail sales are expected to show very strong bounces, largely due to the year on year compassion with a Lunar New Year holiday and lockdown affected period last year.”
In the United States, oil refiners’ weekly capacity were seen up 1.6 million barrels per day, research company IIR Energy said on Friday, as more plants resume operations following outages during the severe winter storm in Texas last month.
Separately, U.S. energy firms have cut the number of oil and rigs operating by one in the first weekly drop since November, according to Baker Hughes Co.
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