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Crude oil futures slip on US stock build, steady supply

Singapore — Crude oil futures were slipped lower during mid-morning trade in Asia Thursday amid a build reported in the US crude stocks last week while steady supply indications elsewhere stalled the losses.

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At 10:30 am Singapore time (0230 GMT), the June ICE Brent crude oil futures ticked down 11 cents/b (0.15%) from Wednesday's settle to $74.46/b, while the NYMEX May light sweet crude contract moved 21 cents/b (0.32%) lower at $65.68/b.

According to data released by the US Energy Information Administration Wednesday, US crude stocks for the week ended April 19 grew 5.48 million barrels to 460.63 million barrels.

"US crude fell for the first time in 4 sessions after a big jump in US inventories, " analysts from UOB Bank said in a note.

While the build was lower than the build reported by the American Petroleum Institute Tuesday, it was in contrast to a draw expected by analysts surveyed Monday by S&P Global Platts.

Total crude imports jumped 1.16 million b/d to an 11-week high 7.15 million b/d last week, while domestic crude production ticked up 100,000 b/d back to the all-time high 12.2 million b/d.

US product inventories on the other hand were bullish, with total gasoline stocks down 2.13 million barrels to 225.83 million barrels, while US distillate stocks edged down 662,000 barrels to 127.03 million barrels.

Meanwhile, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih on Wednesday said the market is "well supplied" and that Riyadh would only boost supplies according to customer requests.

"Oil prices largely sustained at an elevated level, despite rising US crude inventories, as Saudi Arabia suggested that it will not ramp up production rapidly, " said Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank.

Speaking at a conference in Riyadh, Falih said Saudi Arabia would only boost supplies according to customer requests. "We will be responsive, and we think there will be an uptick in real demand but certainly we are not going to be pre-emptive and increase production," Falih said, according to news reports.

"If OPEC production were expanded in an uncoordinated manner, there would be a risk of a renewed oversupply and another price slide in the second half of the year. We therefore expect the production cut agreement to be extended and envisage an oil price of $70 per barrel at year's end," Commerzbank analysts said in a note.

As of 0230 GMT, the US Dollar Index was down 0.07% at 97.74.

--Avantika Ramesh, avantika.ramesh@spglobal.com

--Edited by Liz Thang, elizabeth.thang@spglobal.com