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U.S. crude oil stockpiles drew down last week, while gasoline inventories increased and distillates stocks also fell, the U.S. EIA said on Wednesday. In the week to December 14, commercial inventories of crude oil in the U.S. fell by 497,000 bbls, in contrast to expectations for a bigger decrease of 2.4 mil bbls. Crude stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub rose by 1.09 mil bbls. U.S. gasoline stockpiles rose last week by 1.8 mil bbls, compared expectations for an increase of 1.2 mil bbls. Inventories of distillate fuels fell by 4.2 mil bbls, in contrast to expectations for a  573,000 bbl increase.

The U.S. central bank raised its key overnight lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point, as expected and the fourth of the year,  to a range of 2.25 pct to 2.50 pct on Wednesday.  The Fed also made a widely expected technical adjustment, raising the rate it pays on banks’ excess reserves by just 20 basis points to give it better control over the policy rate and keep it within the targeted range.

The energy minster from Saudi Arabia said he expects global oil stocks to fall by the end of the first quarter. “We remain focused on fundamentals, I can tell you we will achieve balance between supply and demand in 2019,” Khalid al-Falih told reporters. Falih added that OPEC and non-OPEC members, including Russia, are committed to reducing stocks under the agreement reached earlier this month in Vienna. On the U.S.-China trade wars, Falih said that this would not have an impact on Saudi Arabia’s relationship with China.

Libya’s internationally recognised government said on Wednesday that Libya’s biggest oilfield, El Sharara, will reopen. Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj had flew to meet and persuade with protesters to end a blockage. The spokesman for a group of tribesman who took over the oil-field on Dec 8, Mohammed Ahmed , said the government had agreed to implement their demands within a week from Dec 22.  “El Sharara oilfield will be reopened after an agreement with Fayez al-Sarraj. Urgent (demands), like liquidity and fuel, will start (being implemented) on Saturday, other demand will be implemented within 45 days,” he said.                         

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