Oil set for weekly gain on signs of improving demand

  • Reuters
  • Commodities News
Oil set for weekly gain on signs of improving demand
Credit: © Reuters.

By Shariq Khan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices rose in Asian trading hours on Friday, with global benchmark Brent set for its first weekly increase in three weeks on signs of improving global demand and slowing inflation in top oil consumer the United States.

Brent crude oil prices rose 21 cents, or 0.3%, to $83.48 a barrel by 0018 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 18 cents, or 0.2%, to $79.41 a barrel.

Brent futures are set to rise about 1% on a weekly basis, and WTI futures are set to gain 1.4%.

Recent declines in oil and refined products inventories at major global trading hubs have created optimism over oil demand growth, reversing a trend of rising stockpiles that had weighed heavily on crude oil prices in prior weeks. Through Thursday, Brent crude futures were down around 10% from this year's peak of $92.18 a barrel on April 12.

U.S. oil and fuel inventories fell last week, while Singapore's middle distillate fuel stocks dropped to a near three-month low this week. In Europe's Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp trading hub, gasoline stocks were down 7.5% in the week to Thursday, data from consultancy Insights Global showed.

Recent economic indicators from the United States have fed into the optimism over global demand. U.S. consumer prices rose less than expected in April, data showed on Wednesday, boosting expectations of lower interest rates in the country.

Those expectations were further bolstered by data on Thursday that showed a stabilizing U.S. job market.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Marathon Oil well site is seen, as oil and gas activity dips in the Eagle Ford Shale oil field due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the drop in demand for oil globally, in Texas, U.S., May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Jennifer Hiller//File Photo

Lower interest rates could help soften the U.S. dollar, which would make oil cheaper for investors holding other currencies and drive demand.

"Financial markets now have placed the most bets on a September interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve, which would continue to temper the dollar strength and shift that strength over to commodities and equities," StoneX oil analyst Alex Hodes said on Thursday.

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