Oil Prices Edge Up on Bullish Sentiment

By Christopher Alessi and Alison Sider Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oil prices flipped from losses to gains Thursday as investors jumped back into the market, after prices had pushed lower on news that a damaged pipeline could soon come back online.

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U.S. crude futures recently traded up 7 cents, or 0.12%, at $58.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 7 cents, or 0.11%, to $64.63 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

"It's still generally a bull market, and people are looking at where to buy into it," said Ric Navy, senior vice president for energy futures at RJ O'Brien & Associates LLC. "It's a momentum thing."

Prices fell earlier in the morning after Ineos, which owns the Forties Pipeline System in the North Sea, said it expects to complete repair work around Christmas and bring oil flowing through the pipeline "progressively back to normal rates" early in the new year.

The Forties system was shut down Dec. 11 after Ineos discovered a hairline crack in a pipe. The outage has stopped the flow of 450,000 barrels of oil a day, with the result of tightening supply in the region and propping up the price of Brent.

The expected "normalization of the supply line" and the return of crude to the market was responsible for pushing prices down slightly Thursday morning, said David Madden, a market analyst at brokerage CMC Markets.

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Thursday's oil price declines come after prices were buoyed Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration released weekly data showing a 6.5 million-barrel decline in U.S. crude inventories for the week ended Dec. 15., beating analysts' forecasts.

But those daily price gains were "limited by yet another increase in U.S. oil production," according to Tamas Varga, an analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates Ltd. The EIA said U.S. output increased by 9,000 barrels a day last week, to 9.79 million barrels a day.

Prices have been steady since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia agreed late last month to extend production curbs through the end of next year.

OPEC and 10 producers outside the cartel first agreed a year ago to hold back crude output by nearly 2% in an effort to drain a global supply glut that has weighed on prices since late 2014.

Gasoline futures recently rose 0.44 cent, or 0.25%, to $1.7397 a gallon. Diesel futures were roughly flat, down 0.02% at $1.9438 a gallon.

Write to Christopher Alessi at christopher.alessi@wsj.com and Alison Sider at alison.sider@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 21, 2017 11:46 ET (16:46 GMT)