Oil rises more than 1% but sets biggest weekly loss of 2019
* Oil sinks on rising U.S. inventories, trade concerns
* OPEC cuts and Middle East tension limit fall
* U.S. oil drillers cut rigs for third week in a row -Baker
(Updates to settlement)
By Devika Krishna Kumar
NEW YORK, May 24 (Reuters) - Oil prices climbed more than 1%
on Friday ahead of long U.S. and UK holiday weekends, but posted
the biggest weekly drop of the year, pressured by rising
inventories and worries about the global economy.
Brent crude rose 93 cents, or 1.4%, to settle at
$68.69 a barrel, but the global benchmark notched a weekly
decline of about 4.5%.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 72 cents, or
1.2%, to end at $58.63 a barrel. It notched a weekly decline of
about 6.4%, its steepest since December.
U.S. crude was pressured by climbing inventories, which are
at their highest nationwide since July 2017 and at the highest
since December 2017 at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for
the U.S. benchmark.
Economic worries fed by U.S.-China trade tensions have hit
global markets, with the MSCI All Country index
headed for a weekly fall exceeding 1%, its third week in the
"U.S. businesses affected by the increased tariffs will be
making decisions regarding purchases, inventories, etc., that
are apt to force some downshifts in the U.S. economic growth
path that could have implications for U.S. oil demand," Jim
Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said.
"A decline below our expected next support level of $56 (for
WTI) will likely associate with a further plunge in equities
that would be heavily related to unresolved trade issues between
the U.S. and China ... volatility across all markets will be
heightened until some significant trade progress is seen."
Markets will be closed on Monday in Britain for the Spring
Bank Holiday and in the United States for the long Memorial Day
holiday weekend, start of summer vacation driving season.
Motorist group AAA expects the second-highest Memorial Day
weekend travel volume since it began keeping track in 2000.
"Despite a rising national gas price average that is inching
closer to the $3 per gallon mark, the vast majority of holiday
travelers will drive to their destinations," AAA said last week.
Rising U.S. crude production has also weighed on oil prices.
A shale boom has helped make the United States the biggest oil
producer in the world, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Weekly U.S. rig count data, an indicator of future output,
showed U.S. energy firms this week reduced the number of oil
rigs operating for a third week in a row.
But the United States is still projected to reach the 13
million barrels per day (bpd) milestone in the fourth quarter,
according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Broadly, supply cuts - both voluntary and those resulting
from U.S. sanctions - have kept a floor under prices and some
analysts expect the market to recover.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and
allies including Russia, an alliance known as OPEC+, has been
cutting supply to tighten the market and support.
U.S. sanctions on OPEC members Iran and Venezuela have
curbed their crude exports, reducing supplies further.
Brent's price structure remains in backwardation, with
prices for prompt delivery higher than those for later dispatch,
suggesting a tight balance between supply and demand.
"It is reasonable to doubt whether Saudi Arabia will be
willing to step up its output given the latest decline in
prices," analysts at Commerzbank said. "We therefore expect to
see higher oil prices again in the near future."
(Additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London, Henning
Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)
First Published: 2019-05-24 02:46:26
Updated 2019-05-24 21:43:26
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