Oil Rallies on Chinese Import Boost and Mideast Tensions

The global crude market will rebalance next year if the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) holds output at current levels - but oil prices are not expected to rise in 2018, a new forecast has suggested.

West Texas Intermediate for November delivery added 85 cents to settle at $51.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Earlier in the day, both contracts hit their highest since the end of September, putting Brent on track for a weekly gain of 3 percent, and USA crude for a 4 percent weekly increase. For the week, Brent was up nearly 3 percent and USA was up over 4 percent.

The monthly OPEC oil market report noted that, based on secondary sources, Angola produced 1.641 million barrels in September, a monthly drop of 2,900 barrels, while Nigeria increased production by 50,800 barrels to 1.855 million barrels.

"Our forecast of global demand growth remains unchanged at 1.6 million barrels per day in 2017, or 1.6 percent, and 1.4 million barrels per day in 2018, or 1.4 percent", said the report.

RCMA Group Energy managing director David Maher said: "OPEC doesn't really have a choice but to extend cuts unless they're happy to risk sub-$40 per barrel prices again".

USA president Donald Trump is also expected to make an announcement on the Iran nuclear deal, which is due for renewal this weekend.

North Korea renews Guam threat before joint naval exercise
In the last three months, North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test ever and launched two missiles over northern Japan. The previous test compelled Washington to accelerate its global campaign to exert sanctions and pressure on North Korea.

China's robust imports have been driven by purchases for its strategic petroleum reserves.

Brent crude futures, the global benchmark for oil prices, were trading at $56.75 per barrel at 0649 GMT, up 14 cents, or 0.25 percent, from their last close.

Kurdish authorities have sent thousands more troops to the oil region of Kirkuk to confront "threats" from Iraq's central government, the vice president of the autonomous Kurdistan region said.

Tensions between the two, which traders fear could impinge on oil exports from the region, have been building since Iraq's Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence in a September 25 vote.

OPEC with other key oil-producing nations pledged to reduce production by 1.8 million barrels from the beginning of this year.

Earlier in the week, the EIA said it expects USA crude oil production in 2018 to rise by more than previously expected.

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