SYDNEY (Reuters) – Oil prices edged lower on Friday as a surprise increase in U.S. inventories offset support from the threat of lower production in Venezuela.
International Brent crude oil futures <LCOc1> were at $61.01 a barrel at 0124 GMT, down 8 cents their last settlement. Brent futures closed down 0.1 percent in the previous session.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures <CLc1> were at $53.08 per barrel, down 6 cents from their last settlement. WTI futures closed up 1 percent on Thursday.
“Price action was tempered by an unexpected rise in inventories,” ANZ Bank said in a research note.
Gasoline stocks <USOILG=ECI> rose for an eighth consecutive week, by 4.1 million barrels to a record 259.6 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.7 million-barrel gain.
Crude inventories <USOILC=ECI> rose by 8 million barrels in the week to Jan. 18, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decline of 42,000 barrels.
Helping to support prices, Washington signalled it could impose sanctions on Venezuela’s crude exports as Caracas descends further into political and economic turmoil.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Richard Pullin)