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Oil edges up ahead of US storage data as Opec, Federal Reserve see robust economy

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Oil prices edged up on Wednesday on positive economic comments from US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) ahead of a weekly report on US stockpiles.

[NEW YORK] Oil prices edged up on Wednesday on positive economic comments from US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) ahead of a weekly report on US stockpiles.

Brent futures rose 31 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to settle at US$62.37 per barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude gained 32 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to settle at US$57.12.

"The complex received a lift today ... on a rebound in risk appetite that appeared to be fueled by ... Powell's testimony that emphasized growth and maintenance of low rates," Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Illinois, said in a report.

Mr Powell said the US economy would see a "sustained expansion" with the full impact of recent interest rate cuts still to be felt.

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"The baseline outlook remains favorable," Mr Powell said.

Opec said it saw no signs of global recession and rival US shale oil production could grow by much less than expected in 2020.

Opec Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said global economic fundamentals remained strong and that he was still confident the United States and China would reach a trade deal.

"It will almost remove that dark cloud that had engulfed the global economy," Mr Barkindo said, adding it was too early to discuss the output policy of Opec's December meeting.

He also said some US companies were now saying oil production would grow by just 0.3-0.4 million barrels per day next year - or less than half of previous expectations - reducing the risk of an oil glut.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA), however, projected US oil output hit a record of 13 million bpd this month and will grow more than expected in 2019 and 2020.

US crude inventories fell by 541,000 barrels in the week to Nov 8 to 440 million, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed on Wednesday, compared with analysts' expectations for a increase of 1.6 million barrels.

The drawdown compares with increases of 7.9 million barrels during the prior week ended Nov 1, 10.3 million barrels during the week of Nov. 9 in 2018 and the five-year average increase for the week of 3.7 million barrels, EIA data showed.

Official weekly EIA data is due at 11.00am EST (1600 GMT) on Thursday. Both reports were delayed a day for the US Veterans Day holiday on Monday.

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that Washington and Beijing were close to finalising a trade deal, but he fell short of providing a date or venue for the signing ceremony.

Oil futures, however, briefly pared gains Wednesday afternoon after the Wall Street Journal reported US-China trade negotiations "hit a snag" over farm purchases.

REUTERS