UPDATE 6-Oil rises, hovers below $50/bbl on hopes for U.S. stimulus

Reuters

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    * Both benchmarks rise for fifth straight week
    * U.S. inches towards coronavirus aid bill
    * OPEC+ to increase supply, but keep bulk of supply cut
intact
    * Brent six-month backwardation highest since February
    * U.S. oil rigs rise 5 to 246, highest since May -Baker
Hughes

 (Updates with settlement prices)
    By Jessica Resnick-Ault
    NEW YORK, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil futures rose
more than 1% on Friday, remaining just under $50 a barrel, as
expectations of a U.S. economic stimulus package and the
possibility of a vaccine for the coronavirus overrode rising
supply and increased COVID-19 deaths. 
    A bipartisan $908 billion coronavirus aid plan gained
momentum in the U.S. Congress. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2IJ1J5
    Brent  LCOc1  settled up 54 cents or 1.11% at $49.25 a
barrel. During the session, the contract hit its highest since
early March at $49.92. West Texas Intermediate  CLc1  rose 62
cents to $46.26 a barrel, after touching a high of $46.68 a
barrel. 
    Both benchmarks gained for a fifth consecutive week, with
Brent up 1.7% and U.S. crude up 1.9%. 
    "We're higher, despite super bearish events - it's all about
stimulus," said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho
in New York. "You can't go home short this weekend because they
could sign a deal this weekend."
    OPEC+, comprising of the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries and its allies, on Thursday agreed on a
compromise to increase output slightly from January but continue
the bulk of existing supply curbs to cope with coronavirus-hit
demand.
    OPEC and Russia agreed to ease deep oil output cuts from
January by 500,000 barrels per day with further as yet undefined
increases on a monthly basis, failing to reach a compromise on a
broader policy for the rest of 2021.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2IJ0HD
    OPEC+ had been expected to continue existing cuts until at
least March, after backing down from plans to raise output by 2
million bpd.
    The increase means the group will reduce production by 7.2
million bpd, or 7% of global demand from January, compared with
current cuts of 7.7 million bpd. 
    While some analysts saw an undersupplied oil market even
under the new higher supply quotas, others expected the barrels
would tip the market into oversupply. 
    Wood Mackenzie analysts, for example, expect that if the
increases continue through March, there might be 1.6 million bpd
unwanted in the first quarter.
    The premium of Brent crude futures  LCOc1-LCOc7  for nearby
delivery to future months is at its highest since February, a
structure called backwardation, which usually points to supplies
tightening up and suggests receding fears of a current glut.
    U.S. production, meanwhile, has recovered from the
two-and-a-half-year lows touched in May mainly because shale
producers have brought wells back online in response to rising
prices. 
    The U.S. oil rig count  RIG-USA-BHI  rose five to 246, its
highest since May, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said.
 RIG/U 
     Money managers raised their net long U.S. crude futures and
options positions in the week to Dec. 1, the U.S. Commodity
Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said.        

 (Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick and Shadia Nasralla;
Editing by Marguerita Choy and Elaine Hardcastle)
 ((Jessica.Resnick-Ault@thomsonreuters.com; +1 332 219 1145;))

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