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U.S. oil prices rise by 1 percent amid expectations of volatile 2019

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By Reuters
U.S. oil prices rise by 1 percent amid expectations of volatile 2019
FILE PHOTO: A pump jack operates in the Permian Basin oil production area near Wink, Texas U.S. August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo   -   Copyright  Nick Oxford(Reuters)

By Henning Gloystein

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – U.S. oil began 2019 in positive territory on Wednesday, although the general outlook for the year is weak amid soaring U.S. crude supply and concerns of an economic slowdown.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spot crude oil futures <CLc1> were trading at $45.86 per barrel at 0024 GMT, up 45 cents, or 1 percent, from their final close in 2018.

International Brent crude futures <LCOc1> had yet to trade.

Oil prices ended 2018 with losses for the first time since 2015, after a desultory fourth quarter that saw buyers flee the market over growing worries about a supply glut and mixed signals related to renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“Oil prices … registered their first yearly decline in three years on fears of a slowing global economy and concerns of an ongoing supply glut,” said Adeel Minhas, a consultant at Australia’s Rivkin Securities.

For the year, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) futures slumped nearly 25 percent, while Brent tumbled nearly 20 percent.

The outlook for 2019 is riddled with uncertainty, analysts said, including U.S.-China trade concerns and Brexit, as well as political instability and conflict in the Middle East.

A Reuters poll showed oil prices are expected to trade below $70 per barrel in 2019 as surplus production, much of it from the United States, and slowing economic growth undermine efforts led by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut supply and prop up prices.

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; editing by Richard Pullin)