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Oil edges up after steep losses ahead of US debt ceiling vote

Wednesday,   31-May-2023   08:02 AM (IST)

Oil prices edged up on Wednesday after steep losses in the prior session, as market participants awaited an expected vote on a bipartisan deal to lift the $31.4 trillion U.S. debt ceiling. Brent crude futures for August delivery rose 11 cents to $73.82 a barrel by 0013 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) gained 8 cents to $69.54 a barrel. Both fell more than 4% on Tuesday. Brent's July contract, which expires on Wednesday, and the U.S. benchmark were on track for monthly declines of more than 7% and 9%, respectively. Top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday urged members of his party to support the deal even as he faced a direct challenge from some, which weighed on oil prices during the previous session. Still, a key party hardliner said he would likely support the measure in a critical procedural vote, which would allow it to clear a pivotal House of Representatives Rules Committee with a Republican majority. The committee was due to vote later on whether to advance the 99-page bill. The debt deadline nearly coincides with the June 4 meeting of OPEC+ - the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia. Traders were uncertain about whether the group will increase output cuts as a slump in prices weighs on the market. Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman last week warned short-sellers betting oil prices would fall to "watch out" in a possible signal that OPEC+ may cut output. However, comments from Russian oil officials and sources, including Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, indicate the world's third-largest oil producer is leaning toward leaving output unchanged. In April, Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC+ announced further oil output cuts of around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), bringing the total volume of cuts by OPEC+ to 3.66 million bpd, according to Reuters calculations. Market participants also awaited industry data on U.S. crude stockpiles due later on Wednesday. The data was delayed by a day because of a U.S. holiday earlier this week. Seven analysts polled by Reuters estimated on average that crude inventories fell by about 1.2 million barrels in the week to May 26.