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Oil prices steady, but global growth worries hold sway

Oil prices steady, but global growth worries hold sway
A pumpjack is seen at the Sinopec-operated Shengli oil field in Dongying, Shandong province, China January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Chen Aizhu   -   Copyright  AIZHU CHEN(Reuters)
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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Oil prices steadied on Thursday, but concerns over global growth and a sharp rise in U.S. stocks kept the market under pressure.

International Brent crude oil futures <LCOc1> were at $61.17 a barrel at 0124 GMT, up 3 cents from their last settlement, having closed down 0.6 percent in the previous session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures <CLc1> were at $52.63 per barrel, up 3 cents from their last settlement. WTI futures closed little changed on Wednesday.

Analysts said oil remains under pressure amid growing concerns about a slowdown in global economic growth.

“Global energy demand has been soft as uncertainty remains in the minds of investors,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior analyst, OANDA.

Analysts also pointed to a surprise increase in U.S. crude stocks after refineries cut output, according to industry data.

Crude inventories rose by 6.6 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 18 to 443.6 million, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 42,000 barrels.

Gasoline stocks rose by 3.6 million barrels, compared with expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.7 million-barrel gain.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Richard Pullin)

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