Futures were little changed in New York after rising 3.2 percent over the previous three sessions. Saudi Arabia cut production by more than it had pledged, while higher demand is helping to rebalance the market, the IEA said Friday. OPEC is due to release its monthly report Monday, offering the group’s first update on the progress of the curbs that took effect Jan. 1. In the U.S., drillers increased the rig count to the highest since October 2015, according to Baker Hughes Inc.
Oil has fluctuated above $50 a barrel since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and 11 other nations started trimming supply last month to ease a global glut. The market will shift into a deficit during the first half of this year and U.S. crude stockpiles will shrink amid a decline in imports as the curbs take effect, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said last week.
“If OPEC confirms the compliance to cuts, there could be more upside from here for oil,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “At this stage, prices are still stuck within a range. Rising shale output is keeping a lid on gains at the moment.”
West Texas Intermediate for March delivery was at $53.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 13 cents, at 9:18 a.m. in Hong Kong. Total volume traded was about 40 percent below the 100-day average. The contract gained 86 cents to $53.86 on Friday. Prices averaged $52.61 last month.
Brent for April settlement traded 14 cents lower at $56.56 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices advanced $1.07, or 1.9 percent, to $56.70 on Friday. The global benchmark traded at a premium of $2.34 to April WTI.