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Oil stable on small market bounce, but investors eye trade outlook

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Oil prices held steady on Monday, supported by an early bounce in Asian stocks, but analysts said sentiment remains cautious after a plunge across financial markets last week triggered worries that global growth may be slowing.

[SINGAPORE] Oil prices held steady on Monday, supported by an early bounce in Asian stocks, but analysts said sentiment remains cautious after a plunge across financial markets last week triggered worries that global growth may be slowing.

Front-month Brent crude oil futures were at US$77.77 a barrel at 0033 GMT, up 15 cents, or 0.2 per cent, from their last close.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at US$67.89 a barrel, up 30 cents, or 0.4 per cent, from their last settlement.

Despite the gains and calmer financial markets early on Monday, sentiment among investors remained cautious after hefty losses last week.

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Oil faced "downward pressure from lower growth forecasts around the globe," said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at futures brokerage Oanda.

There were also signs of a slowdown in global trade, with rates for dry-bulk and container ships - which carry most raw materials and manufactured goods - coming under pressure.

On the supply side, however, oil markets remain tense ahead of looming US sanctions against Iran's crude exports, which are set to start next week and are expected to tighten supply, especially to Asia which takes most of Iran's shipments.

Some relief could come from rising output in the United States, which has already increased by almost a third since mid-2016 to around 11 million barrels per day.

Production is set to rise further. US drillers added two oil rigs in the week to Oct 26, bringing the total count to 875, the highest level since March 2015, Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday.

More than half of all US oil rigs are in the Permian basin in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, the country's biggest shale oil formation.

REUTERS