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Crude oil futures edge higher amid of US stocks data, OPEC meet

Singapore — Crude oil futures edged higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Tuesday ahead of the release of US crude stocks data and a decision on extending OPEC's ongoing supply cut agreement.

At 10:10 am Singapore time (0210 GMT), ICE Brent February crude futures were up 11 cents/b (0.18%) from Monday's settle at $61.03/b, while the NYMEX January light sweet crude contract was 14 cents/b (0.25%) higher at $56.10/b.

Analysts surveyed Monday by S&P Global Platts expect data due for release in coming days to show US crude inventories fell 700,000 barrels in the week ended November 29.

The market is currently in a transition period as refiners return from autumn maintenance, boosting crude demand. Inventories typically begin to draw at this time of year.

Preliminary US crude and product inventory data is due for release by the American Petroleum Institute later Tuesday and more definitive numbers by the US Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.

For refined products, analysts expect US gasoline stocks to have risen 2.7 million barrels in the week to November 29 and distillate stocks to have risen 460,000 barrels.

Market participants were also looking out for comments ahead of the OPEC meeting scheduled for Thursday-Friday in Vienna, where a decision on extending the ongoing supply cut agreement is set to be made.

Many analysts say the group should announce deeper cuts for longer to avoid a further price slump. However so far OPEC delegates have not indicated any appetite for bolder action, lest they cede even more market share to US shale and other competitors, though Iraqi oil minister Thamir al-Ghadhban told reporters in Baghdad on Sunday that a proposal to increase the cuts to 1.6 million b/d could be considered.

"The indication so far has been that there is support for an extension of existing cuts but not for deeper cuts, so if this news pans out, it could provide a decent boost to oil price sentiment," AxiTrader Asia-Pacific Market Strategist Stephen Innes said in a note Tuesday.

"Still, the major swing factor remains the size of the tariff rollback assuming, of course, a phase one trade deal will happen," he added.

Latest media reports quote US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross as saying that US President Donald Trump will increase tariffs if a trade deal with China cannot be reached by December 15.

"Asian markets are likely to trade with a soft tone today amid the resurfacing of trade deal concerns," OCBC Bank analysts said in a note.

As of 0210 GMT, the US Dollar Index was up 0.08% at 97.865.

--Avantika Ramesh,

--Edited by Wendy Wells,