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Oil prices rebound in Asia, US crude back above $30

SINGAPORE: Oil prices recovered in Asia on Monday after a steep fall in the previous session, with US crude back above $30 a barrel as traders mulled the impact of a potential freeze by key producers.

Oil spiked sharply last week after major exporters held talks on a potential agreement to reduce a global supply glut that has dragged prices to their lowest levels in nearly 13 years this month.

Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s top crude producers, have agreed to limit production if others followed suit.

But crude resumed its downtrend Friday as traders fretted the deal would not gain traction, with analysts cautioning Iraq and Iran, which is ramping up output after sanctions were lifted, had shown little support.

News commercial oil stockpiles in the US, the world’s top oil consumer, continued to build up added to the pressure.

At around 0335 GMT Monday, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in March was up 50 cents, or 1.69 percent, at $30.14.

Global benchmark, Brent, for April advanced 43 cents, or 1.30 percent, to $33.44 a barrel.

Sanjeev Gupta, who heads the Asia Pacific oil and gas practice at EY, predicted prices would remain under pressure and said he sees “little evidence of any relief from the oversupply”.

The market will now be “looking for clues on the outlook for crude oil demand from the manufacturing and service sector data from the US and Europe that will be released this week,” he added.

Still, Capital Economics said even if the producer talks did not lead to an agreement “they may be the first indication of willingness to act to prevent prices falling further”.

“A sustained recovery may require something more substantial, but for now at least oil prices appear to have found a floor,” it said.

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