Oil prices near $50 a barrel on Thursday after US inventory data

"While Opec is expected to extend a self-imposed production cap by another six months, it will be a challenge to convince several non-Opec members to follow suit", said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy.

It is great to see this article about how elevated volumes of waterborne crude flows are causing Malaysia's oil shipping lines to become clogged - it vindicates us at the good ship Clipper for consistently highlighting how Asian floating storage has not been tanking, while others have said to the contrary. "The whole commodity complex has been affected by this and it could have some pretty big implications if it continues for much longer", said Saxo bank's head of FX strategy John Hardy. The contract lost $2.30, or 4.8 percent, to settle at $45.52 a barrel on Thursday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar recovered from an earlier drop, trading at 112.44 yen, about flat on the day. Economists forecast that job-creating bounced back last month after a disappointing March, in the latest sign of US economic strength supporting the Fed's plans for more interest rate increases this year.

They all fought back, though, after the Saudi OPEC governor's comments to Reuters that: "A six-month extension (to production cuts) may be needed to rebalance the market, but the length of the extension is not firm yet".

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OPEC's combined water-borne shipments of almost 24 million barrels a day in March were up slightly from October levels, before OPEC hammered out the deal to cut output. The euro slipped to $1.0975 from $1.0984. "I think now this election is no longer an issue and the market is already starting to focus on new issues: inflation, the (euro zone) economy, and the USA data", said DZ Bank strategist Daniel Lenz. "This week's USA figures did not provide that evidence".

Brent futures gained 72 cents, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $49.10 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 70 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $46.22 per barrel. The dollar and US government bond yields had both been nudged lower by the commodity market worries. Economists on average expect 185,000 jobs were created in April. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.1 percent to close at 2,389.52. However, it also makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will raise its key interest rate again as soon as June.

"It was somewhat disturbing that gasoline inventories went up yet another week, counter seasonally, and of course we saw continued increasing USA crude oil production", said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB Markets.

"We still have some downside risk, but we're starting to get near the bottom".

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