MTECHTIPS- Crude prices held early gains on Tuesday in Asia with figures on U.S. inventories later int he day expected to set the market tone in thin regional trade with markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India shut for holidays. On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for May delivery rose 0.08% to $50.328 a barrel, while on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent edged up 0.06% to $53.15 a barrel. The American Petroleum Institute (API) will release its estimates of crude stocks at the end of last week late on Tuesday. The figures will be followed by official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday. Analysts expect crude inventories dropped by 530,000 barrels at the end of last week, with distillates down by 1.12 million barrels and gasoline supplies showing a 1.462 million barrels decline. Overnight, crude settled lower on Monday, as investors fret over rising U.S. shale production while a rebound in Libyan oil output weighed on sentiment. Crude prices ended the first quarter nearly 6% down and showed little sign of a recovery, as oil prices slipped on Monday, amid fears that a ramp up in U.S. oil production could weigh on OPEC’s efforts to drain the glut in supply. Oilfield services firm Barker Hughes reported its weekly U.S. rig count Friday, rose by 10 to 662, it was the eleventh straight weekly increase, which fuelled concerns that the rise in U.S. production would likely remain robust.
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