Oil slips as investors book profits

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By Brendel Balaga

Oil fell slightly from its 2016 peak as investors cashed in four weeks worth of gains on Friday. Despite market players booking profits, oil remained close to its highest level this year on fresh hopes of an output freeze by major producers.

Brent crude was $0.20 lower at $41.34 a barrel as of 0928 GMT. It reached a peak of $41.71 in intraday trading, its highest this year.

U.S. crude dipped $0.10 to trade lower at $40.10 barrel. The benchmark gained 4.5% yesterday, closing at $40.20.

Oil prices have rallied by more than 50% from 12-year lows recorded in December, after Saudi Arabia and Russia announced that a tentative agreement has been reached to freeze production at their January levels.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said crude stockpiles rose by 1.3 million barrels in the week leading to March 11, to a new high of 523.2 million barrels, but clarified that the figure was still below the 3.4 million barrel increase projected by analysts.

Both Brent and U.S. oils have been on the rise for weeks with the former hitting 4 weeks of non-stop gains and the latter recording 5 straight weeks of gains.

Representatives from 15 oil-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, will be meeting in Doha on April 17 to discuss the details of the production freeze. Collectively, the 15 countries comprise 73% of the world’s total oil output.

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