SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil markets on Thursday were weighed down by rising U.S. crude production and inventories, but prices were prevented from falling by expectations that OPEC will extend an ongoing production cut during a meeting at the end of this month.

Brent crude futures <LCOc1>, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $61.89 per barrel at 0100 GMT, 2 cents above their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $55.33 a barrel, unchanged from their last settlement.

Both crude benchmarks have lost almost 5 percent in value since hitting 2015 highs last week.

Traders said that crude was capped by rising U.S. output and crude inventories.

U.S. crude inventories <C-STK-T-EIA> rose for a second week in a row, building by 1.9 million barrels in the week to Nov. 10 to 459 million barrels, the government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

That compared to analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a decrease of 2.2 million barrels.

U.S. crude oil production <C-OUT-T-EIA> hit a record of 9.65 million barrels per day (bpd), meaning output has risen by almost 15 percent since their most recent low in mid-2016.

(For a graphic on ‘Global crude oil supply and demand balance’ click

Despite this, analysts said prices were relatively well supported, largely due to efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to withhold oil production in order to tighten the market and prop up prices.

The deal is due to expire in March 2018, but OPEC will meet on Nov. 30 to discuss policy, and it is expected to agree an extension of the cuts.

“OPEC, led by Saudi … will look to support the market, especially until the sale of Aramco is complete. If sanctions against Iran are executed, it will drive the price significantly higher,” said Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers in Sydney.

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November 16, 2017