US crude falls more than 1% after Opec defends inaction

TOKYO (REUTERS) - US crude futures fell more than 1 per cent on Thursday (Jan 22), giving up almost half the gains from the previous session, after OPec defended its decision not to intervene to stop a collapse in oil prices since the middle of last year.

Nymex crude for March delivery was down 50 cents, or 1.05 per cent, at US$47.28 a barrel by 0003GMT.

Nymex rose more than 2 per cent on Wednesday on optimism for a recovery as energy companies cut production investment to alleviate a supply glut that has wiped out more than half crude's value since June.

London Brent crude for March delivery was untraded, after rising US$1.04 to close at US$49.03 on Wednesday.

Opec defended on Wednesday its decision not to intervene to halt the oil price plunge, shrugging off warnings by top energy firms that the cartel's policy could lead to a huge supply shortage as investments dry up.

French oil and gas company Total will cut spending on ageing North Sea fields and on US shale production after the recent plunge in oil prices, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Losses from lower oil exports should sap up to US$300 billion from economies in the Middle East and Central Asia this year, as countries in the region adjust to falling crude prices, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.