Oil futures moved higher early Thursday after ending January with the first monthly gain since September, while traders kept an eye on U.S. production outages and monitored tensions in the Middle East.
West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery
rose 60 cents, or 0.8%, to $76.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
April Brent crude
the global benchmark, was up 74 cents, or 0.9%, at $81.29 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
Oil futures slumped Wednesday after government data showed an unexpected increase in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories last week, but WTI and Brent both saw monthly gains, their first since September.
Traders continue to brace for the U.S. response to a drone attack by Iran-backed militants that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan last weekend.
Meanwhile, production figures in Wednesday’s government data showed U.S. crude production bounced back by 700,000 barrels a day last week to 13 million barrels a day. Cold weather in North Dakota and Texas had weighed on output last month, helping to buoy crude prices.
“Total output does remain 300K b/d from the record though, and if we don’t see the rest of that production restored in the next few weeks, that will mean a 2.1 million barrel weekly deficit relative to the early year levels,” wrote analysts at Sevens Report Research, in a note. “The longer
that persists, the more bullish it becomes.”