Stockpiles Swoon, Oil Prices Gain

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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bn Salman arrived in Washington for a state visit, raising market-speculation the United States could re-impose sanctions on Iran, following renewed-criticism of the 2015 nuclear-deal.

After the decline in inventories, crude prices extended their daily gains.

Oil prices rose on Wednesday, lifted by tensions in the Middle East and healthy demand, although rising us output continued to weigh on markets.

West Texas Intermediate for May delivery added 6 cents to $63.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 2:24 Singapore.

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To get a broader picture, producers could look at a longer period than five years, or take into account inventories in other countries, floating storage and oil in transit, OPEC officials have said. Still, investors will be wary of USA supplies, which have threatened to undermine OPEC's efforts to eliminate a global glut.

Saudi Arabia is threatening an arms race with Iran. Total volume traded was about 33% below the 100-day average.

Producers in the pact achieved 138 percent of pledged output reductions last month, OPEC said in a statement, a record since the deal among OPEC and non-member countries aimed at clearing a glut and bolstering prices began in January 2017.

Thanks to the high drilling activity, U.S. crude oil production has risen by more than a fifth since mid-2016, to 10.38 million barrels per day (bpd), pushing it past top exporter Saudi Arabia. Brent is the benchmark for several Middle East and other global crudes.

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US crude oil stockpiles fell unexpectedly last week as imports dropped and refining rates jumped, while gasoline and distillate inventories also declined, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

If Trump decides to exit the deal under which worldwide measures were removed on Iran in return for a curbing of its nuclear program, it would likely be welcomed by Saudi Arabia, which regards the deal as a boon for its regional foe.

The price of U.S. crude oil has broken decisively above resistance from a downward-sloping trendline joining the highs touched on February 2 and February 26, suggesting that further gains are in prospect. If the U.S. imposes fresh sanctions on Iran, the country's capacity to export crude oil is likely to be crippled as a result.

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