WTI: The $54 holds high after supply glut regains market attention

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Meanwhile, imports are set to drop further as the U.S. slapped sanctions on Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

Oil prices slipped on Thursday after USA crude inventories rose and the country's production held at record levels, but OPEC-led supply cuts and Washington's sanctions against Venezuela supported markets. The WTI prices remained positive on Wednesday after the EIA inventory report joined hands with Venezuelan sanctions and supply outages at Canada and Mexico.

Oil edged lower on Wednesday after a report showed a rise in US crude inventories, countering expectations of a tightening market in 2019 due to OPEC-led supply cuts and USA sanctions on Venezuela.

Benchmark Brent crude slipped 21 cents to $61.77 US a barrel mid-morning Wednesday, after rallying about 15% in January.

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Speaking during a trip to Japan, Ms Merkel said: "To solve this riddle, you have to be creative and you have to listen to one another".

Oil was one of last year's worst-performing commodities, but the related exchange traded products immediately shook that laggard status to start 2019.

US crude was down 39 cents at $53.27 U.S.

The European Union is considering imposing more sanctions on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro but has not discussed an oil embargo, Malta's foreign minister said on Monday. "That said, if the other OPEC countries fail to offset this outage, the oil market could quickly become undersupplied, driving the price up".

A formal OPEC+10 joint structure, as suggested in the WSJ report earlier this week, would only lead to additional red tape and the risk of USA sanctions against monopolies, Novak added, TASS said.

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Concern about weaker global economic growth and the trade dispute between the United States and China have also weighed on sentiment.

Washington said last week that after April 28 foreign companies would not be able to conduct business with Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA using the US financial system, effectively banning them from paying in USA dollars. -China trade dispute. Oil prices fell on Tuesday after a survey showed euro zone business expansion almost stalled in January.

In December, lengthy Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) discussions finally came to a conclusion, resulting in a larger-than-expected production cut.

Average weekly crude oil production remained at the record 11.9 million barrels per day (bpd) it reached in late 2018.

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead a delegation to Beijing next week to lay the groundwork for a meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping later this month.

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