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Oil prices nudge up after API data shows surprise drop in US stocks

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Oil prices nudged up on Wednesday following two sessions of losses after industry data showed an unexpected drop in U.S. crude and fuel stocks, offsetting concerns of a possible rise in supplies from Iran.

Brent crude futures rose 23 cents, or 0.3%, to $91.01 a barrel by 0122 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $89.47 a barrel, up 11 cents, or 0.1%.

“Undersupply is the key factor that has pumped up the oil price,” said Tina Teng, an analyst at CMC Markets.

U.S. crude, gasoline and distillate stocks fell last week, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Tuesday. Crude inventories fell 2 million barrels, according to API, versus analysts’ expectations of a 400,000-barrel increase.

Still, concerns about a possible Iran nuclear deal that could unleash more oil into global markets weighed on prices.

Brent and WTI slid about 2% on Tuesday, down for a second straight session, as Washington resumed indirect talks with Iran to revive a nuclear deal. Such a deal could lift U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil and quickly add supplies to the market, although a number of vital issues still need to be ironed out.

“With the negotiations ongoing, the oil price is likely to lose steam in the next week, despite the bump higher we’ve seen today,” Teng said, adding that there has also been some profit taking among investors who have turned cautious after prices hit more than 7-year highs.

Oil prices at near $100 a barrel could also draw more production from the United States. The Energy Information Administration expects U.S. crude output to rise 770,000 barrels per day to 11.97 million bpd in 2022.

Concerns over Ukraine, meanwhile, were on hold as French President Emmanuel Macron said he believed steps can be taken to de-escalate the crisis after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and called on all sides to stay calm.

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