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Oil prices fall on profit taking, strong Russian supply

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Jan 27 (Reuters) By Laura Sanicola – Oil prices reversed earlier gains on Friday as indications of strong Russian oil supply offset better than expected U.S. economic growth data, strong middle distillate refining margins and hopes of a rapid recovery in Chinese demand.

Brent futures were down 51 cents, or 0.6%, at $86.96 a barrel by 11:29 a.m. EDT (1629 GMT.) U.S. crude fell 65 cents, or 0.8%, to $80.37. Both benchmarks rose by more than $1 earlier in the session but are now poised to break a three week run of gains.

Oil loadings from Russia’s Baltic ports are set to rise by 50% this month from December as sellers try to meet strong demand in Asia and benefit from rising global energy prices, traders said and Reuters calculations showed.

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Urals and KEBCO crude oil loadings from Ust-Luga over Feb. 1-10 may rise to 1.0 million tonnes from 0.9 million in the plan for the same period of January, traders also.

“If Russian supply remains strong heading into next month, oil is probably going to continue to trend lower,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.

He added that profit taking ahead of the weekend may also have driven prices lower.

OPEC+ delegates meet next week to review crude production levels, with sources from the oil producer group expecting no change to current output policy.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s next decision on interest rates will be made at meeting over Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 against a backdrop of a dip in inflation and gross domestic product that grew by a faster than expected 2.9% in the fourth quarter.

“The positive batch of data gave oil prices a lift,” said PVM analyst Stephen Brennock.

A 4.2 million barrel build this week in stocks at Cushing, the pricing hub for NYMEX oil futures, also weighed on the market.

“We believe soaring middle-distillate prices and cracks are mostly behind crude’s bullish price action,” JPMorgan said in a note, pointing to heavy refinery maintenance and outages, plus the European ban on Russian refined products from Feb. 5.

In China, critically ill COVID-19 cases are down 72% from a peak early this month while daily deaths among COVID-19 patients in hospitals have dropped by 79% from their peak, pointing to a normalisation of the Chinese economy and boosting expectations of a recovery in oil demand.

Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla Additional reporting by Julia Payne in London and Sudarshan Varadhan in Singapore Editing by David Goodman, Kirsten Donovan

Source - Oil prices fall on profit taking, strong Russian supply

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