Oil Down Slightly As Libya, Iran Supply Expectations Weigh


NEW YORK, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Crude oil futures ended slightly lower in thin trade on Thursday as expectations of more supply from the Middle East and North Africa weighed against news of lower oil output from OPEC.

U.S. crude oil futures traded marginally lower over the day, and settled down for the second time this week. However, losses were capped by data showing a drop in jobless claims and a rise in consumer prices to their highest in six months in the world's largest oil consumer.

Brent largely held steady between an expected increase in supply from Libya and Iran and OPEC cuts.

"The overall trading range in Brent has been a narrow range" due to mitigating geopolitical factors, said Dominick Chirichella, a partner at Energy Management Institute.

Brent crude for February delivery expired down 4 cents at $107.09 a barrel, after settling 74 cents higher on Wednesday. Brent March crude oil, which becomes the front month on Friday, settled down 52 cents at $105.75 a barrel.

Losses in Brent were capped by an analyst's report that seaborne oil exports from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will fall by 660,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) in the four weeks to Feb. 1.

U.S. crude settled down 21 cents at $93.96 a barrel, after ending $1.58 higher on Wednesday. The February contract expires on Tuesday, after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday. Floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange is shut on Monday and settlement prices will not be posted.


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