Oil ended near the highest closing level in eight weeks in New York as a jump in U.S. crude inventories was countered by a decline in the nation’s oil production.
Futures were little changed. Output fell for a sixth week to 9.08 million barrels a day, the lowest level since November 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration. Crude inventories rose, keeping supplies at the highest in more than eight decades. OPEC members will meet with Russia and other producers in Moscow on March 20 to resume talks on an output cap, Nigeria’s oil minister said.
Oil is still down about 6 percent this year on speculation a global glut will be prolonged amid brimming U.S. stockpiles and the outlook for increased exports from Iran after the removal of sanctions. Exxon Mobil Corp. scaled back production targets and said drilling budgets will continue to drop through the end of next year as the oil market shows no signs of a significant recovery.
West Texas Intermediate for April delivery fell 9 cents to close at $34.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose to $34.66 Wednesday, the highest settlement since Jan. 5. Total volume traded was about 16 percent above the 100-day average.
Brent for May settlement gained 14 cents to $37.07 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude was at a premium of 74 cents to WTI for May.