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Crude oil futures higher on bullish API crude draw, market awaits OPEC+ meeting

0311 GMT: Crude oil futures rose during the mid-morning trade in Asia June 30, as data from the American Petroleum Institute showed a large draw in US crude inventories, and as the market eagerly awaited the July 1 OPEC+ meeting.

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At 11:13 am Singapore time (0311 GMT), the ICE August Brent futures contract was up 43 cents/b (0.58%) from the previous close at $75.19/b while the NYMEX August light sweet crude contract was up 49 cents/b (0.67%) at $72.98/b.

The data released by the American Petroleum Institute led to some bullishness in the market, as it showed a draw of 8.15 million barrels in the US crude inventories for the week ended June 25.

The data was less positive with regards to downstream products inventories, showing gasoline and distillate inventories rising by 2.42 million barrels and 428,000 barrels, respectively.

The market, however, was not swayed by the product builds, as they could be attributed to rising refinery utilization, which S&P Global Platts Analytics expects to have averaged 16.35 million b/d in the week ended June 25, up from an EIA-reported 16.11 million b/d during the week prior.

The market remains optimistic about US products demand, and especially gasoline demand, with Apple Mobility data showing the US driving activity staying near record levels at 162% of the January 2020 baseline in the week ended June 25.

The market will now be awaiting more comprehensive data from the Energy Information Administration, due to be released later June 30, for more pricing cues.

Meanwhile, the market has its eyes set on the July 1 OPEC+ meeting, after the July 29 Joint Technical Committee provided little definite guidance into the producer group's production plans for August.

Despite calls for higher production, analysts generally expect the coalition to raise production moderately by 500,000 b/d in August, especially as the resurgence in COVID-19 infections due to the delta variant of the coronavirus threatens demand, and as the threat of additional barrels from Iran following a possible Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal hangs over the market.

"Russia apparently is leading a group of countries that want to [increase] output. Saudi Arabia is taking a more cautious approach, with Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, cautioning [that] it's not clear whether oil prices were rising due to real supply and demand or because of expectations and trajectories that are excessively optimistic," ANZ analysts said in a June 30 note.