LONDON (Reuters) - The global oil market is close to balance after nearly three years of excess supply, as production cuts by the world's largest exporters offset a longer-term decline in demand in the richest nations, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.
The Paris-based agency said preliminary data showed oil stocks across industrialised nations fell by 17.2 million barrels in March, resulting in an increase of 38.5 million barrels, or 425,000 barrels per day (bpd), in the first three months of the year.
"The net result is that global stocks might have marginally increased in the first quarter versus an implied draw of about 0.2 million bpd," the IEA said.
Overall crude stocks in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development fell by 8.1 million barrels in February to 3.055 billion barrels, still 330 million barrels above the five-year average, the IEA said.
(Reporting by Amanda Cooper; Editing by Jason Neely and Dale Hudson)