July 20, 2017 / 1:48 AM / in a year

Oil stable after large fall in U.S. fuel stocks, but markets remain bloated

SINGAPORE, July 20 (Reuters) - Oil prices held steady on Thursday following solid gains the previous day when falling U.S. fuel inventories lifted the market.

However, Brent crude oil prices remain below the key $50 per barrel mark on concerns about high supplies from producer club OPEC despite a pledge to cut output in a bid to tighten the market.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $49.67 per barrel at 0132 GMT, just 3 cents below their last settlement.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $47.08 per barrel, 4 cents below their last close.

Prices jumped nearly 2 percent in the previous session on news of falling fuel stocks in the United States.

U.S. crude inventories fell by 4.7 million barrels in the week to July 14 to 490.6 million barrels C-STK-T-EIA. That compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 3.2 million barrels.

“Over the past 15 weeks, U.S. oil inventories have fallen ... 13 times, and in most cases, the falls were more pronounced than expected,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at futures brokerage Forex.com.

“Yet, U.S. crude oil inventories still remain near the upper half of the average for this time of the year,” he added.

Ongoing high inventories as well as high output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are preventing prices from rising much further, traders said.

OPEC, together with some non-members like Russia, has pledged to cut production by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) between January this year and March 2018.

However, a lack in compliance by some countries and exemptions for OPEC members Nigeria and Libya have undermined that effort, keeping supplies high and preventing prices from rising by much.

Libya said on Wednesday it is aiming to produce 1.25 million bpd by the end of the year and 1.5 million bpd by the end of 2018. Libya’s national production has recently stood at just over one million bpd, up from lows of around 250,000 bpd a year ago.

Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard Pullin

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