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US oil prices slide for fifth straight session

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US oil prices fell for the fifth straight session on Wednesday as US crude inventories remained at high levels and Opec confirmed a significant rise in cartel production in January.

[NEW YORK] US oil prices fell for the fifth straight session on Wednesday as US crude inventories remained at high levels and Opec confirmed a significant rise in cartel production in January.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery fell 49 cents to US$27.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent North Sea oil for April delivery advanced 52 cents to US$30.84 a barrel in London.

Oil prices briefly rallied after a US Department of Energy report showed US oil stocks fell about 800,000 barrels for the week ending February 5.

However prices soon dropped back as traders took note of higher supplies of gasoline, a rise in stocks at the key Cushing, Oklahoma trading hub and a scant drop in oil production.

"The WTI continues to be under pressure," said Andy Lipow of the consultancy Lipow Oil Associates.

Analysts said sentiment was also marred by a report from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that showed the cartel's production rose by about 130,000 barrels a day in January.

The Opec report, which followed a bearish outlook released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency, "has carried on the theme of an ongoing market imbalance" and "put a damper on things," said Matt Smith of ClipperData.

"Based on the cartel's current output, the market is oversupplied by 1.84 million barrels per day this quarter," Mr Smith said.

Unless US oil production falls off suddenly, "the near-term outlook continues to remain bleak for the black stuff," said Forex.com analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

AFP