Oil prices stable amid sanctions and OPEC cuts, but economic concerns drag


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    * OPEC has led supply cuts since start of year
    * U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, Iran further tighten
    * But global econ slowdown seen weighing on growth in fuel

    By Henning Gloystein
    SINGAPORE, March 15 (Reuters) - Oil prices were steady on
Friday amid support from ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC and
U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, but weighed down by
concerns that an economic slowdown will soon start denting
growth in fuel demand.
    International benchmark Brent crude oil futures  LCOc1  were
at $67.16 per barrel at 0029 GMT, down 7 cents from their last
close, but still within a dollar of the $68.14 per barrel
2019-high reached the previous day.
    U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures  CLc1 
were at $58.53 per barrel, down 8 cents from their last
settlement, and also not far off their 2019-high of $58.74 from
the previous day.
    Despite Friday's dips, crude has gained around a quarter in
value since the start of the year.
    "Crude oil continues to grind higher ... in response to
ongoing production cuts from the OPEC+ group of producers as
well as another (output) slump from a blacked-out Venezuela,"
said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Denmark's Saxo
    The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
and non-affiliated allies such as Russia - known as the OPEC+
alliance - has pledged to withhold 1.2 million barrels per day
(bpd) in crude supply since the start of the year to tighten
markets and prop up prices.
    Meanwhile, a political and economic crisis in Venezuela
combined with U.S. sanctions against Venezuela as well as Iran,
have further tightened oil markets.
    Holding crude back crude prices from rising further have
been concerns that a global economic slowdown that has gripped
large parts of Asia and Europe, and which is showing signs of
spilling into North America, will soon dent growth in demand for
oil.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N2115QE urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N2110X2 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N20Y18N
    "(But), worries about growth and future demand for crude oil
remain just worries at this stage," said Saxo Bank's Hansen.
    Crude oil use by China's refineries in the first two months
of 2019 rose 6.1 percent from a year earlier to a record 12.68
million bpd, official data showed this week.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N2110QG

 (Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford)
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