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Title: Oil prices take a breather, OPEC+ sticks to output plans

Feb 02, 2022 11:40PM ET

By: AnalysisWatch

Oil prices eased on Thursday after weak US jobs data and some profit-taking but remained supported by tight supply as OPEC+ producers stuck to planned moderate production increases.

Brent crude fell 17 cents, or 0.2%, to $89.30 a barrel at 0420 GMT, after rising 31 cents on Wednesday. After rising 6 cents the day before, US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 31 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $87.95 a barrel.

US private payrolls fell in January for the first time in a year, raising the risk of a sharp drop in employment that would be a temporary setback for the labor market.

Still, tight global supplies and geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East have pushed oil prices up about 15% so far this year. Last week, crude benchmarks hit their highest levels since October 2014, with US crude reaching as high as $89.72 on Wednesday and Brent reaching as high as $91.70 on Friday.

Prices also came under pressure late on Wednesday after Iran's oil minister said the country was ready to return to the oil market as soon as possible, but gave few details.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies led by Russia, known as OPEC+, agreed on Wednesday to increase oil production moderately by 400,000 barrels a day, although the group is already struggling to meet existing targets and despite pressure from key consumers to increase output faster.

The group blamed the price rise on the failure of consuming countries to invest adequately in fossil fuels as part of a shift to cleaner energy, and several OPEC+ sources said prices had been driven up by tensions between Russia and the US.

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