Oil held below $60 a barrel as U.S. companies reduced the number of active rigs at the slowest pace since a prolonged retreat in drilling began in December.

Futures were little changed in New York after falling 0.3 percent on Friday, capping a three-day drop. The rig count slipped by eight to 660, the smallest cut in 23 weeks of declines, according to Baker Hughes Inc. Demand for OPEC’s crude will rise as current prices hinder shale output expansions, according to Qatar Petroleum International’s Chief Executive Officer.

Oil’s recovery from a six-year low is stalling near $60 a barrel amid speculation rising prices will encourage production and sustain a supply glut. U.S. crude inventories are more than 100 million barrels above the five-year average for this time of year, according to government data.

West Texas Intermediate for June delivery, which expires Tuesday, rose 12 cents to $59.81 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:27 a.m. Sydney time. The contract slid 19 cents to $59.69 on Friday. The volume of all futures traded was about 66 percent below the 100-day average. The more-active July futures were 10 cents higher at $60.64.

Brent for July settlement gained 5 cents to $66.86 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $6.23 to WTI for the same month.

Source: Bloomberg