Oil falls as Saudis ease production cuts

Oil reversed earlier gains after Saudi Arabia told OPEC it raised output back above 10 million barrels a day in February, reversing about a third of the cuts it made the previous month.

Futures fell 0.6 percent in New York after losing 9.2 percent the previous six sessions. The kingdom, which had curbed supplies more than it needed in January to lead the way in an accord to re-balance world markets, told OPEC it boosted production by 263,300 barrels a day last month, a figure that jarred with the group’s own estimate that Saudi production fell further.

Oil last week broke below $50 a barrel for the first time since December as rising U.S. supply counteracted reductions by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and 11 other nations that started Jan. 1. The Saudi production increase comes as Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih last week said the kingdom won’t indefinitely “bear the burden of free riders.” Russia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates are yet to deliver all the curbs they promised.

West Texas Intermediate for April delivery was  trading below $48 a barrel in New York Tuesday morning.  The contract fell 9 cents to $48.40 on Monday, the lowest close since Nov. 29.