US crude steadies above $46 after slide, set for 8th weekly drop

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SINGAPORE (Jan 16): U.S. crude futures hovered above $46 a barrel on Friday after sliding almost 5 percent in the session before amid a shaky demand outlook, putting oil prices on course for an eighth straight week of losses.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. crude for February delivery was little changed at $46.34 a barrel by 0005 GMT. The contract slid 4.6 percent on Thursday, nearly erasing all of the gains in the prior session when it posted its biggest rise since June 2012.

* West Texas Intermediate crude is down more than 4 percent so far for the week, on track for its 15th weekly drop out of 16.

* Brent oil for February, which expired on Thursday, lost $1.02 in the session to settle at $47.67 a barrel.

* Schlumberger Ltd, the world's No.1 oilfield services provider, said it will cut 9,000 jobs, or about 7 percent of its workforce, as it controls costs in response to falling oil prices.

* The collapse in oil prices is starting to slow growth in U.S. output, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said, although the slowdown will not prevent an increasing global surplus in 2015 and demand for the exporter group's oil falling to its lowest in a decade.

* Traders are shipping West African crude to the United States to store the oil until prices recover, as the global glut forces them to source any tanks available and as seaborne cargoes are able to compete better on price with U.S. crude.

* The glut has cheered tank farm companies and shipowners operating in Singapore, who are fielding increased enquiries for crude and gasoline storage space.

* Mexico said tenders for the exploration and production of shale and other more expensive oil and gas deposits could happen later than planned due to the slump in oil prices, which could also hurt government spending in 2016.

* U.S. producer prices in December recorded their biggest fall in more than three years on tumbling energy costs while underlying inflation pressures were tame.