Oil edges up on reduced United States drilling activity, booming job market

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan New York

"While Friday's favorable jobs data and oil rig decline might suggest a test of the high side of this expected range first, we still view downside price risk exceeding that to the upside", he said.

Brent crude, which is the global benchmark of crude oil, had opened 2018 at $64.73.

Oil prices settled with a loss on Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-pull-back-from-strong-finish-last-week-as-market-renews-us-supply-watch-2018-03-12), giving back part of the sharp gains seen in the previous session as recent data showed a rise in weekly USA output, as well as expectations for a further increase in domestic production next month.

Brent sweet crude was at 65.70 dollars per barrel, up 21 cents, or 0.3 per cent, from their previous close.

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CNBC noted that hedge funds and money managers have pared their bullish wagers on WTI, with long positions falling last week for the first time in three weeks; meanwhile, gross short positions (bets that prices will fall) on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed to their highest level in almost a month. Oil prices gave up earlier gains today as rising United States output loomed over markets, despite a slowdown in rig drilling activity.

The US economy added the biggest number of jobs in more than 1-1/2 years in February, with non-farm payrolls jumping by 313,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), together with other producers, has been limiting production since the start of 2017 to prop up prices.

While OPEC has complied with its 2017 production pledge, US flows that are gaining a bigger slice of the Asian market may cause some countries to increase supplies, which could drag down crude prices after a rally of more than 40% since June, ING says. American oil explorers idled four rigs last week after six consecutive increases in drilling, easing fears over surging shale production. Iran wants OPEC to work to keep oil prices at about $60 a barrel as an increase toward $70 will encourage shale oil output, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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