Oil prices slide as dealers eye output talks

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SINGAPORE: Oil prices edged down again in Asian trade on Thursday, a day after suffering hefty losses in response to data showing a surprise jump in US stockpiles, while hopes for a deal to limit output were dealt a blow.

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The US energy department said on Wednesday that inventories soared 2.5 million barrels last week, confounding forecasts for a fall and fanning worries about a global supply glut.

Both main contracts plunged on the news, with West Texas Intermediate shedding 2.8 percent and Brent down 1.8 percent Wednesday.

And by 0410 GMT on Thursday WTI was down two cents at $46.75 while Brent eased seven cents to $48.98. WTI has now lost almost five percent since the end of last week while Brent has slipped 3.6 percent.

The commodity entered a bull market last week—a 20 percent rise from recent lows—and rallied for seven straight sessions thanks to news that export grouping OPEC and Russia would hold talks on output to address the oversupply crisis.

A report that Iran had seemingly changed its previous position to also consider limiting production provided further support.

However an Iranian oil ministry source told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday that Tehran has yet to decide whether to move towards a cap or even to attend the gathering in Algeria next month.

A previous OPEC attempt to freeze output collapsed in April largely because of Iran’s refusal to join, having just emerged from international sanctions and keen to maximise its oil revenues.

“The market is possibly jittery (over the coming OPEC meeting),” Fat Prophets resource analyst David Lennox told AFP from Sydney.

“That’s why we’re seeing this sort of volatility because the market isn’t quite sure what outcome to expect from next month’s OPEC meeting.”

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