Record US Supplies Push Crude Oil Below $50

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Rigs targeting crude in the USA rose to the most since September 2015, according to Baker Hughes.

The near-record concentration of hedge fund long positions in oil significantly raised the risk of a crowded trade and likely contributed to the sharp fall in the price of oil starting on March 8.

The market's volatility surged the most since before the 2014 price crash started after a government report showed US inventories reached a record.

According to the OPEC-non-OPEC agreement, member states of the cartel will cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day for the first half of 2017.

Oil prices have been trading in a narrow $5 range around the low-to-mid-$50s over the past three months as sentiment in oil markets has been torn between rising stockpiles and increased shale production in the USA and hopes that oversupply may be curbed by output cuts announced by major global producers.

And in 2016, OPEC assembled a coalition of 11 non-OPEC countries, including Russia, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Malaysia, to coordinate OPEC and non-OPEC output cuts. USA drillers boosted the rig count by eight to 617 last week, according to data Friday from Baker Hughes. The contract dropped $0.79 to $48.49 on Friday, capping the biggest weekly decline since November.

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Fund managers still held an overwhelming bullish position at the end of March 7, with long positions outnumbering shorts by a ratio of 7:1 (http://tmsnrt.rs/2nloC76).

Shale firms need OPEC to succeed in reducing global oil stockpiles and raising prices.

"It's all about the short-term glut that we have to deal with today, with the potential shortage months down the road", Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, said by telephone. Production also increase by 56,000 barrels a day to 9.088 million barrels. Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih said inventories haven't fallen as fast as OPEC had expected.

The US crude oil rig count peaked at 1,609 in October 2014.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday that crude supplies jumped by 8.2 million barrels last week to yet another all-time high of 528.4 million. President Donald Trump has certainly helped to revitalize the industry, with a pro-hydrocarbon agenda and plans to stabilize the US markets. "If prices stay under $50 we should see some North American producers slow investment".

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