January 20, 2018
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U.S. Oil Holds Near Seven-Week High; OPEC Upbeat on Output Curbs


TOKYO - U.S. oil prices held near seven-week highs on Wednesday after OPEC signaled optimism over its deal with other producers including Russia to curb production and clear a glut that has weighed on the market since 2014.

The U.S. April crude contract <CLc1>, the new front-month future, was up 3 cents at $54.36 a barrel at 0028 GMT. On Tuesday, the March contract expired up 66 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $54.06, after peaking at $54.68, the highest since Jan. 3.

Brent crude <LCOc1> was yet to trade after ending the previous session at $56.66 a barrel, up 48 cents or 0.9 percent. It earlier reached its highest since Feb. 2 at $57.31.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers outside the group agreed in November to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in an effort to drain a glut that has depressed prices for over two years.

Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC secretary general, told an industry conference in London that January data showed conformity from member countries participating in the output cut had been above 90 percent. Oil inventories would decline further this year, he added.

"All countries involved remain resolute in the determination to achieve a higher level of conformity," Barkindo said.

Russia and the other outside producers have so far delivered a smaller percentage of cuts, but Barkindo said this would increase.

It was too early to say if the supply cut, which lasts for six months from Jan. 1, would need to be extended or deepened at the next OPEC meeting in May, he said.

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Richard Pullin)