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Crude oil futures higher on bullish US stocks data, OPEC cuts

Singapore — Crude oil futures were higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Wednesday after the release of a bullish weekly US crude stocks report, while supply cuts by OPEC and its allies continued to add support.

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At 10:15 am Singapore time (0215 GMT), ICE April Brent crude futures were up 40 cents/b (0.61%) from Tuesday's settle at $65.61/b, while the NYMEX April light sweet crude contract was 52 cents/b (0.94%) higher at $56.02/b.

Analyst reports quoting American Petroleum Institute data released Tuesday had US crude inventory falling 4.2 million barrels in the week ended February 22.

Analysts surveyed Monday by S&P Global Platts had been expecting a 4 million-barrel build.

The API data for US product inventories was also bullish for gasoline, with stocks falling 3.8 million barrels in the week, while distillates stocks rose a mild 400,000 barrels over the same period.

"API data bullish," The Price Futures group analyst Phil Flynn said in a note.

More definitive weekly US inventory data is due for release by the US Energy Information Administration later Wednesday.

Meanwhile, market focus remained on optimism stemming from OPEC's commitment to reducing supply to balance market fundamentals, analysts said.

"The focus is on supply-side issues, with OPEC+ members going out of their way to show support for the production cut deal," ANZ analysts said in a note.

Iraq is currently exporting 3.75 million b/d of crude and is committed to complying with production caps set under the latest OPEC agreement, oil minister Thamir Ghadhban told Iraqi news service Furat on Tuesday. Iraq's production cap under the OPEC agreement that started in January is 4.512 million b/d.

OPEC's second-biggest producer is in a "comfortable position" with Brent crude at $66-$67/b helping to cover some of the projected 20% deficit in its $133 billion budget this year, he said. The 2019 budget is based on an oil price of $56/b and exports of 3.88 million b/d, including 250,000 b/d from the Kurdish region.

Analysts also cited media reports quoting Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak as saying Russia was committed to continuing to reduce output.

The ANZ analysts said: "Russia has reduced its oil production by almost 140,000-150,000 b/d from December levels, according to Energy Minister Novak. He also said it would reach a target 228,000 b/d reduction from October levels by the end of March or early April."

As of 0215 GMT, the US Dollar Index was up 0.06% at 95.975.

--Avantika Ramesh,

--Edited by Wendy Wells,