Oil hovers near three-month lows as investors await data

By Aaron Sheldrick

TOKYO (Reuters) – Crude oil prices hovered near three-month lows on Tuesday, with investors waiting for key reports and data that may shed light on a supply overhang in the global market.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) <CLc1> was down 7 cents at $48.33 a barrel, as of 0716 GMT. The contract ended down 9 cents in the previous session after touching its lowest since the end of November at $47.90.

Brent crude futures <LCOc1> gained 3 cents to $51.32 a barrel, having settled down 2 cents on Monday after dipping as low as $50.85.

Both benchmarks had slightly fluctuated during Asian hours.

Prices fell sharply last week as investors worried that swelling U.S. crude supplies would hinder Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’s (OPEC) efforts to restrict output and reduce a global glut.

Prices rose after the OPEC and other major oil producers, including Russia, had agreed in November to rein in production by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of 2017.

“It’s shaping up to be another fun week in the crude complex, with OPEC releasing its monthly oil market report on Tuesday, swiftly followed by the IEA’s monthly oil market report the day after,” Matt Smith, analyst at ClipperData, said in a note.

The International Energy Agency releases its closely watched monthly oil market report on Wednesday.

Data from the industry group the American Petroleum Institute on U.S. crude and product stockpiles is also due later on Tuesday.

U.S. shale oil production in April was set for its biggest monthly increase since October as output in the Permian Basin, America’s fastest growing shale oil region, was expected to hit another record high, government data showed on Monday.

“I think this week is crucial to give us an idea of where prices will be for the rest of the year – all eyes will be on API data later, and a sniff of another big crude build and down we go towards $45,” said Matt Stanley, commodities broker, Freight Investor Services.

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Joseph Radford and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)