Oil posts fifth week of gains on signals of tighter supply

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Oil prices rose on Friday and notched a fifth straight week of gains as investors were optimistic that healthy demand and supply cuts will keep prices buoyant.

Risk appetite in wider financial markets has been fueled by growing expectations that central banks such as the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank are nearing the end of policy tightening campaigns, boosting the outlook for global growth and energy demand.

Bolstered by supply cuts from the OPEC+ alliance announced earlier this month, both oil benchmarks gained nearly 5% for the week – a fifth straight week of gains. The benchmarks are on track to gain over 13% for the month.

Brent crude settled 75 cents higher to $84.99 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained 49 cents to $80.58 a barrel.

Both benchmarks fell by as much as $1 briefly earlier in the session, as investors took profits after WTI rose above $80 per barrel, Price Futures Group analyst Phil Flynn said.

Bullish demand expectations were boosted on Thursday after U.S. second quarter gross domestic product grew at a forecast-beating 2.4%, supporting Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s view that the economy can achieve a so-called “soft landing.”

Investors are warming up to the idea of peak rates getting ever closer, while it is looking increasingly probable that the United States will avoid recession, said PVM analyst Tamas Varga.

Fresh data released on Friday showed some of the euro zone’s top economies displayed unexpected resilience in the second quarter even as a raft of indicators pointed to renewed weakness ahead, as manufacturing ails and services slow.

Meanwhile, policymakers in China have pledged to step up stimulus measures to invigorate the post-COVID recovery after the world’s second-largest economy grew at a frail pace in the second quarter.

In an interview on Friday, Exxon Mobil chief Darren Woods said he expected record oil demand this year and next.

On the supply side, U.S. oil rigs fell by one to 529 this week, their lowest since March 2022, energy services firm Baker Hughes said on Friday. The data is an indication of future supply.

Evidence of tightening is mounting, given declining U.S. inventories and Saudi Arabia’s voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day, Commerzbank analysts said, highlighting this month could have seen OPEC oil production plunge to its lowest level since the autumn of 2021.

Saudi Arabia is expected to extend the voluntary oil output cut for another month to include September, five analysts said, to provide additional support for the oil market.

(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York; additional reporting by Natalie Grover in London, Laura Sanicola in Washington and Andrew Hayley in Beijing; Editing by Deepa Babington, Kirsten Donovan)


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