Brent Oil Makes First Annual Gain in Four Years Before OPEC Cuts

Futures dropped 0.2 percent in London, trimming this year’s increase to 52 percent. U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly expanded for a second week with a gain of 614,000 barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration reported Thursday. The latest data on U.S. drilling from Baker Hughes Inc. is due Friday, after the number of active oil rigs increased by 82 in the eight weeks to Dec. 23.

“2016 was a dramatic oil year,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB Markets. “2016 started very bearishly and ended very bullishly. 2017 is likely to be the opposite, but not quite as dramatic.”

Brent for March settlement dropped 9 cents to $56.76 barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange as of 11:24 a.m. local time. The February contract expired Thursday after losing 8 cents to $56.14. Total volume traded was about 63 percent below the 100-day average.

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery was up 5 cents to $53.82 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 29 cents to $53.77 on Thursday. Prices are up 45 percent this year.

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