Oil Prices Fall as Allies Agree to Ease Supply Curbs

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Oil prices prices fell on Thursday after OPEC and other producers including Russia agreed to ease record supply curbs from August, though the drop was cushioned by tightening global inventories as economic activity picks up.

Brent crude LCOc1 fell 35 cents, or 0.8%, to $43.44 a barrel by 0852 GMT.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was down 49 cents, or 1.2%, to $40.47 per barrel.

Both contracts rose 2% the previous day after a sharp drop in U.S. crude inventories. [EIA/S]

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC+, agreed on Wednesday to scale back oil production cuts from August.

They will reduce their cuts to 7.7 million barrels per day through December from the 9.7 million bpd cuts in place since May.

“Things are getting back to normal on the oil market,” said Norbert Rücker, head of economics research at Julius Baer.

“The petro-nations announced the partial lifting of their production restrictions as oil demand rebounds and signs of an easing supply glut emerge… The economic recovery puts demand above supply.”

Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said production cuts in August and September would end up amounting to about 8.1 million-8.3 million bpd, more than the headline number.

That is because countries in the grouping which over-produced earlier this year would compensate with extra August-September cuts, he said.

Oil prices are expected to remain boxed in as more supply from OPEC+ countries will likely be absorbed by recovering demand, said Tsutomu Kosuge, president of commodity research firm Marketedge Co.

“I expect Brent will stick to the tight range between $40.50-$46.50 for the next month or so,” he said, adding rising tensions between China and the United States may weigh on market sentiment.

International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol said on Wednesday that global oil markets are slowly rebalancing, with prices of about $40 per barrel expected in coming months.

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