Oil prices ended the previous week on an optimistic note, rising by over a dollar as energy stockpiles showed a larger than expected drop amid an intense cold wave in USA. New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, rose by US$1.38 to US$78.05, while London's Brent North Sea crude for February delivery rose by less than a dollar to US$76.3.
Reports from the US Department of Energy showed a drop in crude inventories of 4.9 mln barrels to 327.5 mln in the week ending December 18, far above analyst expectations of a 1.1 mln-barrel drawback. Distillate inventories also slid 3.1 million barrels last week, vs analyst forecasts of a 1.6 million barrel fall. However, some players feel that despite this dip in stockpiles, inventory levels continue to be on the higher side.
In its latest meet, OPEC has decided to keep crude output quotas unchanged at Angola, warning of lingering weakness in the world economy. OPEC had, in January, enforced total cuts of 4.2 mln bpd when prices dropped to around US$32.