Oil steadies as Middle East tensions offset rising U.S. output

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Prices got a boost this week from a crackdown on corruption by the Saudi crown prince.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 51 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $63.76 a barrel by 12:32 p.m. (1732 GMT), having climbed 3.5 percent on Monday.

The arrest orders were made by a panel Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud formed on Saturday, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Key for the last weeks of 2017 is whether traders remain confident about their huge bets on further price rises, or if they sell out, satisfied with recent strong gains.

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-December light, sweet crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange was recently down 0.3% at $57 a barrel in the Globex training session.

"The most notable thing in the EIA report was that production increased".

More tellingly, tensions escalated between OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Iran, which analysts said did more to rattle the market than the prince's purge. If that happens, some said prices could rally more.

Furthermore, US energy companies cut eight oil rigs last week to 729, the biggest fall since May 2016, meaning oil prices have risen over 40% since June.

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OPEC meets at the end of this month and has been widely expected to extend the deal.

On Wednesday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases official data.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, led by Saudi Arabia, has agreed to restrain crude output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) together with 10 other nations including Russian Federation until March 2018. That compared with the 2.9 million-barrel draw forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll and the 1.6 million-barrel decline reported late Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute.

"So this (rally) will prove quite short-lived and we'll see the price back into $50-$55 a barrel over the next year or two."U.S. crude stockpiles rose 2.2 million barrels in the week to November 3, to 457.14 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday". Texas issued 997 oil and gas drilling permits last month, up almost 17 percent from a year earlier.

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