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U.S. crude falls in Asia after inventory figures, cut extension doubts

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U.S. crude fell in Asia on Thursday with mixed figures on U.S. inventories and uncertainty on the extension of curbs to oil output by OPEC and key non-OPEC beyond the end of June weighing on sentiment.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for June delivery fell 0.29% to $47.68 a barrel, while on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent was last quoted up 0.20% to $50.65 a barrel.

Overnight, crude futures settled higher on Wednesday, as investors’ concerns over rising levels of U.S. output eased, after the latest report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), showed gasoline inventories rose less than expected.

Oil prices snapped a two-day losing streak to settle higher, as investors cheered a mixed inventories report, after gasoline inventories rose less than expected amid a period of a weaker gasoline demand, while crude stockpiles remained near record highs.

For the week ended April 26, the EIA said that crude oil inventories fell by 0.930 million, which was far less than expectations of a draw of 2.333 million barrels.

Meanwhile, gasoline inventories grew by only 0.191 million against expectations for a rise of 1.322 million barrels while distillate stockpiles fell by 0.562 million barrels, compared to expectations of a 0.723 million increase.

Despite the positive trading day for oil futures, overall sentiment remained bearish, as investors fretted over the implications on global supply of rising shale output and falling gasoline demand, which slipped nearly 3% over the last four weeks, compared to same period a year ago.

Meanwhile, investors continued to monitor developments concerning a possible extension to an OPEC-led deal to curb prices, after Russia reported that it has achieved its reduction target a month ahead of schedule.

In November last year, OPEC and other producers, including Russia agreed to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd). The deal to cut supply came into effect in January this year for a period of six-months until June.

OPEC will decide at talks on May 25 whether to extend production cuts beyond June.

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