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Oil Rebounds From 6-Week Low Under $61 on Refinery Issues

U.S. crude oil futures fell on Monday, but only after bouncing off early lows on news of a
Gulf Coast refinery snag and upcoming work.

In early trade, crude futures extended Friday's technically driven drop amid weak products futures, especially RBOB gasoline, and on the effect of an index roll, according to traders and analysts. A weak finish to the day's trading would mark six straight sessions to the downside.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, June crude fell 46 cents, or 0.74%, to settle at $61.47 a barrel, trading from $60.85 to $62.06 .

Monday's low trade was the weakest for a front-month crude contract since $59.95 was struck on March 22. Friday, March 23, was when Iran sparked international tension when it captured British naval personnel.

"In crude oil, a break and settle beneath $61.34-$61.35 would leave us with a double top overhead," Peter Beutel, analyst at Cameron Hanover, wrote in a research note.

He was commenting on "chart-induced" selling last week after crude futures failed to breach resistance around $66.75.

In London, June Brent crude fell 87 cents, or 1.3%, to settle at $64.44 a barrel, after trading $63.80 to $65.50 .

Trading volume was muted by a holiday in London, despite electronic Brent trading being open.

Exxon Mobil is planning 50 to 60 days of work on a 240,000 barrels per day crude distillation unit at its huge Beaumont, Texas, refinery starting May 11, according to trade sources. No one from the company was immediately available for comment.

A crack in the number 6 coke drum at the same Exxon Mobil refinery forced the facility to flare gases while a gas compressor was shut, the company said in a filing with Texas regulators.

Refinery maintenance, unplanned snags and slumping inventories have supported RBOB futures recently.

NYMEX June RBOB gasoline fell 2.68 cents, or 1.21%, to settle at $2.1896 a gallon, after trading $2.1483 to $2.2215. The day's low was the lowest since prices were at $2.13 on April 23.

NYMEX June heating oil fell 2.80 cents, or 1.53%, to settle at $1.8029 a gallon, trading from $1.7880 to $1.8365.

Valero Energy said Monday that a 100,000-bpd fluid catalytic cracking unit at its St. Charles refinery in Norco, Louisiana, was back at reduced rates.

Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA has tendered to sell gasoline and jet fuel for May lifting, traders said on Monday.

A Reuters analyst poll on Monday yielded a forecast for gasoline supplies to have edged up 100,000 barrels last week, with crude inventories seen up 900,000 barrels, and distillate supplies up 500,000 barrels.

Refinery capacity use was pegged up 0.9 percentage point. The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly report on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. New York time.

"Today is the first day of the Goldman (GSCI) roll, which will put downward pressure on the market," Nauman Barakat, senior vice president at Macquarie Futures USA, said early on Monday.

The Goldman roll refers to the five-day period in which the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index basket is rolled forward in 20% increments starting on the fifth business day of each month.

Money shifting into commodities showing more strength, especially metals, also helped pressure crude.

With London trading closed, gold futures hit a two-month high in Tokyo and were up in U.S.
trading.

Still hovering over oil markets are the geopolitical concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program and objections in the West as well as the possibility of disrupted supply from OPEC-member Nigeria in the wake of its disputed election.

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