Oil eases after 4-day gain, U.S. inventories weigh

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SINGAPORE (Jan 25): Oil edged lower on Wednesday, snapping four sessions of gains as an increase in U.S. inventories weighed on the market, offsetting bullish momentum from production cuts announced by OPEC and other producers.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures had fallen 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $52.99 a barrel by 0022 GMT. Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, was yet to start trading.

Weekly inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute showed U.S. crude, gasoline and diesel stocks all rose last week. The Energy Information Administration will report its data at 1530 GMT.

Oil prices have received support from plans by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers to reduce output to boost prices.

Around 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) has already been taken out of the market from about 1.8 million bpd agreed by oil majors starting on Jan. 1, energy ministers said on Sunday, as producers look to reduce oversupply.

Bernstein Energy said global oil inventories declined 24 million barrels to 5.7 billion barrels in the fourth quarter of last year from the previous quarter. That amounts to about 60 days of world oil consumption.

"More participants to the recent production agreement said they were close to implementing their share of the reduction," ANZ said in a note to clients.

Analysts, however, estimated U.S. crude stocks increased by about 2.8 million barrels in the week to Jan. 20.

U.S. oil production has risen by more than 6 percent since mid-2016, though it remains 7 percent below the 2015 peak. It is back to levels reached in late 2014, when strong U.S. crude output contributed to a crash in oil prices.

The push by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives for a shift to border-adjusted corporate tax could push U.S. crude prices higher than the global benchmark Brent, triggering large-scale domestic production, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs on Tuesday.  - Reuters