Oil rises towards $57 on China-U.S. trade talks, OPEC cuts

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Prices for both benchmarks ended Thursday up a fourth consecutive session, at their highest in roughly two weeks.

Brent crude rose $2.60, or 4.8 per cent, to $56.40 a barrel after trading as low as $52.51 earlier.

West Texas Intermediate crude future prices rose 0.5 percent to $46.78 per barrel as of 8:15 a.m. EST, with Brent gaining 1.2 percent to $55.54 as of the same time. Furthermore, there are major concerns over rising output from Russian Federation and the United States.

Traders pointed to signs that Saudi Arabia is beginning to make good on vows to cut output.

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The drop in Opec output in December is the largest month-on-month decline since January 2017, the first month of the earlier supply-cutting deal, according to Reuters surveys. Recent poor manufacturing data from China, for example, had a negative effect on the oil price since Chinese factories are a major consumer of crude. Helping to put a lid on prices today is a sharply lower stock market. U.S.

"It looks like they are very much targeting inventory in the USA, as that affects the high-frequency data that moves traders in or out of the oil market", said Bart Melek, head commodity strategist at TD Securities in Toronto. "I think that's part of it", said Kilduff. "Still, oil rebounded yesterday, shaking off the slump in equities, which is an encouraging sign". On Wednesday, Russia reported that it pumped 11.16 million bpd in 2018, marking a post-Soviet-era record.

Important trends to watch over coming months is whether muted global output growth is reducing fuel consumption; will U.S. shale production maintain its incredible pace; will chronic decline in Venezuelan output continue; what will full-brown United States sanctions do to Iranian exports; and if OPEC+ partners (notably Russia) can satisfactorily enforce output discipline?

The Reuters survey aims to track supply to the market and is based on shipping data provided by external sources, Refinitiv Eikon flows data and information provided by sources at oil companies, Opec and consulting firms.

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Although the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies have pledged substantial output curbs to prevent an oil surplus from forming this year, investors' skepticism helped drive prices to an nearly 40 percent decline to end 2018.

Data for December from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) on Thursday showed the broadest USA slowdown in growth in a decade.

The big question for oil is whether this bounce is likely to represent a reversal back into a more bullish longer-term phase after a long-term low, or whether it is just a kind of "dead cat" bounce.

The slowdown in China and turmoil in stock and currency markets appears to be making investors nervous, including in oil markets.

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Brent oil prices have declined about 38 percent since an early October peak, as concerns about potential supply disruptions in light of USA -nuclear related sanctions against Iran started to sharply decline in the second half of October - after Saudi Arabia announced production increases to cover any supply decline.