SYDNEY (Reuters) – Oil prices edged lower on Friday as a surprise increase in U.S. inventories offset support from the threat of lower production in Venezuela.
International futures were at $61.01 a barrel at 0124 GMT, down 8 cents their last settlement. Brent futures closed down 0.1 percent in the previous session.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $53.08 per barrel, down 6 cents from their last settlement. WTI futures closed up 1 percent on Thursday.
“Price action was tempered by an unexpected rise in inventories,” ANZ Bank said in a research note.
Gasoline stocks rose for an eighth consecutive week, by 4.1 million barrels to a record 259.6 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.7 million-barrel gain.
Crude inventories rose by 8 million barrels in the week to Jan. 18, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decline of 42,000 barrels.
Helping to support prices, Washington signaled it could impose sanctions on Venezuela’s crude exports as Caracas descends further into political and economic turmoil.
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