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"We continue to just chop around here", said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy.

Oil prices stabilised early on Wednesday after posting two days of falls at the start of the week.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries acknowledged the scale of the shale boom, forecasting for the first time that supply growth from rivals will outstrip the increase in demand this year.

Rising output, as well as seasonally low demand, mean that USA crude inventories rose by 1.2 million barrels in the week to March 9, to 428 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday.

Moody's Investors Service has raised its medium-term price band for crude oil to US$45-US$65 per barrel from US$40-US$60 per bbl, as continued Opec-led production restraint and strong global demand growth contribute to declining global inventories, offsetting rapid increases in U.S. shale production.

While it was widely expected that OPEC's production in February would be well below the implied combined ceiling of about 32.73 million bpd, analysts and players were eager to see how low the oil production of crisis-stricken Venezuela dipped last month. The API data also showed gasoline stocks fell by 1.3 million barrels, while distillates fell by 4.3 million barrels.

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At 430.9 million barrels, USA crude oil inventories are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year.

Cartel members' production went down 77,000 bpd from January to February, the report said, citing secondary sources.

Oil demand will be supported by the strong economy, OPEC said, but warned that "the most recent trade-related developments may provide challenges to the growth momentum as global trade has been an important factor contributing to the world economy". Looking at reactions in markets, crude oil prices fell following the EIA report.

Refinery crude runs rose by 432,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed.

Commerzbank strategist Carsten Fritsch said that "according to the OPEC report, demand for OPEC's oil must be 33 million barrels per day for the rest of the year to get rid of any remaining oversupply".

Support on Wednesday came from a report that USA crude inventories are not rising as much as expected during the spring season that is starting, implying healthy demand.

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