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US crude posts best daily gain in two weeks

Oil prices were on pace to post their best day in two weeks on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia said it would cut oil exports in November, while a big chunk of U.S. offshore production remained offline.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude surged $1.34, or 2.7 percent, to $50.92, marking the biggest one-day run-up since Sept. 25. It touched a session high of $51.06 on Tuesday.

Factoring in Monday’s 29-cents jump, WTI had wiped out much of last week’s 4.6 percent decline.

International benchmark Brent crude also rallied, jumping 73 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $56.52 by 2:26 p.m. ET, for its best daily performance since Thursday.

WTI intraday price, source: Factset

Traders were focused on news that Saudi Arabia will cut its November crude oil allocations to customers by 560,000 barrels a day, according to Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates.

The Saudis have sought to expedite OPEC’s effort to drain a global glut of crude oil by capping exports in addition to making voluntary production cuts. OPEC and other crude exporters led by Russia are keeping 1.8 million barrels a day off the market.

Some analysts were wary of the Saudi export cuts. Roberto Friedlander, head of energy trading at Seaport Global Securities, said requests for Saudi oil from Chinese refiners are lower due to scheduled refinery maintenance and government restrictions on imports.

“China and India are cutting their imports and more is coming from the U.S. export machine,” he said in a note on Monday. The Saudis “are spinning it as they are doing ‘more’ but it is just a fall in demand that is driving it.”

Lipow acknowledged the potential impact of maintenance season on demand for Saudi supplies, but said any drop in exports from OPEC’s biggest producer is bullish to the extent it takes oil off the market.

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