Seoul: Oil held near the lowest level in a year as Russia signalled little urgency to commit to supply cuts, while US crude stockpiles continue to grow.

Futures gained 0.6 per cent in New York, after sliding 2.6 per cent in the previous two sessions. Just days before talks with Saudi Arabia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said current oil prices are “absolutely fine”, while the Saudi energy minister said the kingdom is confident Opec and its partners can reach a deal to stabilise the market.

US crude inventories rose for a 10th week, government data show.

Crude has crashed into a bear market after America’s surprise sanctions waivers for Iranian oil fuelled concern over a supply glut. As prices plunged, traders’ focus turned to G20 summit this week in Argentina where the Russian leader and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman are expected to discuss production. The market is flirting with expectations that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and its allies may agree on output curbs at their gathering next week in Vienna.

“Putin’s comments raised speculation that Russia may not join its fellow producers in curbing production,” Sungchil Will Yun, Seoul-based commodity analyst at HI Investment & Futures, said by phone. “At the same time, we have expanding American crude stockpiles and they are unlikely to shrink in the near future.”

West Texas Intermediate for January delivery rose as much as 75 cents to $51.04 (Dh187) a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange before trading at $50.53 by 11:42am in Seoul. The contract declined 2.5 per cent to settle at $50.29 on Wednesday, the lowest close since October 2017. Total volume traded was 61 per cent above the 100-day average.

Brent for January settlement, which expires Friday, was 15 cents higher at $58.91 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract dropped 2.4 per cent to $58.76 on Wednesday. The global benchmark traded at an $8.34 premium to WTI. The more-active February contract added 0.3 per cent to $59.25.