TOKYO, March 10 U.S. crude prices edged up on
Friday after dropping below $50 per barrel for the first time
since December in the previous session, pressured by concerns
that a global supply glut is proving stubbornly persistent.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) was up 23
cents at $49.51 a barrel at 0027 GMT.
Brent crude was yet to trade. On Thursday, it
settled down 92 cents, or 1.7 percent, at $52.19 a barrel, after
slumping 5 percent the day before in its biggest percentage
decline in a year.
The U.S. contract fell below $50 on Thursday for the first
since mid-December, when OPEC producers and a group of other
countries including Russia agreed on a cut in output to end two
years of declining prices.
But market confidence has taken a hit after a period of
higher prices enticed more U.S. shale oil companies to drill
more wells and as stockpiles have remained high.
Data showed crude stocks in the United States, the world's
top oil consumer, swelled by 8.2 million barrels last week to a
record 528.4 million barrels.
U.S. drilling has also picked up, with producers planning to
expand crude production in North Dakota, Oklahoma and other
shale regions, while the Permian, America's largest oilfield,
has seen output jump.
Senior Saudi energy officials told top independent U.S. oil
firms in a closed-door meeting this week that they should not
assume OPEC would extend output curbs to offset rising
production from U.S. shale fields, two industry sources told
Reuters on Thursday.
Energy ministers and senior oil executives are meeting this
week at CERAWeek in Houston, the biggest U.S. gathering of the
(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Joseph Radford)