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Oil slips after Fed signals no rush to cut rates as key US inflation data awaited


By Georgina McCartney and Colleen Howe

(Reuters) -Oil prices fell in Asia on Friday as comments from a Federal Reserve official bolstered expectations of rates staying higher for longer, a view that will be tested later in the day with a keenly-awaited U.S. inflation report.

The market, which is waiting on a weekend OPEC+ decision on production cuts, was weighed down in overnight trade by a surprise build in U.S. gasoline stocks.

Brent futures were down 3 cents, or 0.04%, to $81.83 per barrel at 0601 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 10 cents, or 0.13%, to $77.81.

Dallas Federal Reserve President Lorie Logan said she is still worried about upside risks to inflation despite recent easing, warning that the U.S. central bank needs to be flexible and keep “all options on the table” as it watches data and determines how to respond.

“It’s really important that we don’t lock into any particular path for monetary policy,” Logan said at an event in El Paso, Texas. “I think it’s too soon to really be thinking about rate cuts.”

Markets are cautious ahead of the release of a key gauge of U.S. inflation on Friday, said Yeap Jun Rong, a market strategist with IG. The April report on personal consumption expenditures (PCE), the Fed’s preferred inflation index, is due later in the global day.

The oil market has been under pressure in recent weeks over the prospect of U.S. borrowing costs staying higher for longer, which could potentially tie down funds and hurt crude consumption.

Meanwhile, {{8849|U.S. crcrude oil inventories fell 4.2 million barrels to 454.7 million barrels in the week ending on May 24, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday, compared with expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.9 million-barrel draw. [EIA/S]

Gasoline inventories, however, rose in the U.S. against an expectation that demand would be higher ahead of the long Memorial Day weekend, which signals the start of the summer driving season. Stocks were up 2 million barrels for the week to 228.8 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with expectations for a 400,000-barrel draw. ​

Elsewhere, OPEC+ is working on a complex deal to be agreed at its meeting on Sunday that would allow the group to extend some of its deep oil production cuts into 2025, three sources familiar with OPEC+ discussions said on Thursday.

“A significant driver for oil prices ahead will revolve around the upcoming OPEC+ meeting this weekend,” Yeap said. “Any further cuts may be unlikely and will be seen as a huge surprise.”

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries led by Saudi Arabia and allies led by Russia, together known as OPEC+, are currently cutting output by 5.86 million barrels per day, equal to about 5.7% of global demand.

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