Oil falls below $62 on US inventories, fading Venezuela concerns

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A flotilla loaded with Venezuelan oil has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, some holding cargoes bought ahead of the latest US sanctions on Venezuela and others whose buyers are weighing who to pay.

Market participants have already been focused on signs of tightening global crude supply after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies began an agreement in January to cut output.

A day after the American Petroleum Institute disappointed oil bulls by reporting an estimated inventory build across the board, the Energy Information Administration deepened the mood by saying US crude oil inventories added 1.3 million barrels in the week to February 1. "Because the number was a little disappointing, it played into the slowing demand scenario", said Phil Flynn, oil analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

At 447.2 million barrels, USA crude oil inventories are about 6 percent above the five year average for this time of year, the EIA reported.

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Still, some analysts were relieved that USA crude oil inventories only rose by 1.3 million barrels in the week to February 1, according to the EIA, compared with expectations for an increase of 2.2 million barrels.

Brent crude futures dropped 24 cents, or 0.38 percent, to settle at $62.51 a barrel.

In gasoline, the authority reported a build of 500,000 barrels, with daily production at a little less than 9.9 million barrels.

The United States announced sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company last week, a move which has yet to push prices up steeply but could still spark gains. Elsewhere, supplies from OPEC face heightened uncertainty after Libya's eastern leader Khalifa Haftar said his forces have taken control of the country's largest oil field.

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The producers known as OPEC+ started cutting production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from last month to avert a new supply glut, and OPEC has delivered nearly three quarters of its pledged cuts already, a Reuters survey showed last week. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments.

The price of U.S. crude continues to rise and the outlook is still constructive on tight supplies and concerns about Venezuelan output.

The report revealed that there have been encouraging signs in trade talks between the United States and China over tariffs recently, and any agreement between the two countries could provide upside to oil demand, and indeed oil prices, going forward. Oil prices fell on Tuesday after a survey showed euro zone business expansion almost stalled in January.

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