By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Crude oil prices stabilized on Wednesday as Asian stock markets caught a tailwind from a strong performance in the United States and Europe, although fuel markets remained generally dogged by oversupply.
Asian shares extended a global rally on Wednesday, with markets in China stabilising and Japanese stocks posting their biggest one-day gain since the height of the global financial crisis in 2008, and traders said the more upbeat sentiment had flowed into oil markets.
The Brent global crude benchmark was trading at $49.64 per barrel at 0654 GMT, up 12 cents from its last settlement after jumping 4 percent in the previous session.
“Stabilisation in Chinese equity markets has… played an important role,” ABN Amro said on Wednesday, referring to firming Brent.
In Japan, weekly crude and refined products statistics showed stable utilization rates and stock levels.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was weaker, shedding 10 cents to $45.84 a barrel after falling in the previous session as the end of the U.S. summer driving season pulls down fuel consumption.
General concerns remained that high global production was being met with a growing slowdown in demand, especially due to the economic slowdown in China.
Oil prices have fallen over 50 percent since June 2014 on a global supply glut, with prices seesawing in recent weeks as concerns about a slowing Chinese economy caused turmoil in global stock markets, while production remained near record highs.
On the supply side, speculation that some producers might cooperate in cutting output in support of prices was dealt a blow this week by Russia and Mexico, who both said they would not cut.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is producing close to record volumes to squeeze out competition, especially from U.S. shale producers, which have so far weathered the price plunges to keep pumping oil.
OPEC said that Indonesia was reactivating its membership of the oil exporter club despite being a net crude importer.
If completed, the move would add almost 3 percent to OPEC’s oil output.
Indonesia would be the fourth-smallest OPEC producer ahead of Libya, Ecuador and Qatar, and bring the number of participants to 13 countries.
Indonesia was the only Asian OPEC member for nearly 50 years before leaving the group at the start of 2009 as oil prices hit a record high, and rising domestic demand and falling production turned it into a net oil importer.
(Editing by Richard Pullin and Biju Dwarakanath)