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Oil futures climb Friday more than 5% for the week

By Myra P. Saefong / MarketWatch

Petroleumworld 02 15 2019

Oil futures gained Friday, lifting prices up by more than 5% for the week on signs of tighter global supplies and progress in trade talks between the U.S. and China.

The market was optimistic in regard to progress in this week's trade talks between the U.S. and China , which can influence demand for energy from the globe's largest two economies.

The U.S. and China made “important progress for the current stage” of their trade negotiations, state-run Xinhua reported Friday, after Chinese President Xi Jinping met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing.

U.S. benchmark March West Texas Intermediate crude oil CLH9, +2.54% rose $1.18, or 2.2%, to settle at $55.59 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

April Brent LCOJ9, +2.82% added $1.68, or 2.6%, to $66.25 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Both WTI and Brent saw the highest price finish for a front-month contract since Nov. 19, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Week to date, WTI prices were 5.4% higher, while Brent jumped by 6.7%.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries earlier in the week reported its crude output had come down by nearly 800,000 barrels a day in January to average 30.81 million barrels a day, with the bulk of the cuts coming from Saudi Arabia. The International Energy Agency's monthly oil market report, also released this week, reported the Saudis had cut production by 400,000 barrels a day last month, to average 10.24 million barrels a day.

The de facto OPEC leader, Saudi Arabia, pledged earlier this week to cut output further in the coming months, according to the Financial Times (paywall), citing oil minister Khalid al-Falih, who said the country would cut an additional 500,000 barrels a day to take production to 9.8 million barrels a day in March.

“The market is currently reacting solely to price-supportive news such as Saudi Arabia's announcement of more pronounced production cuts,” analysts at Commerzbank said in a note.

The moves coincide with likely involuntary declines from Iran and Venezuela, making it increasingly difficult for U.S. shale or any other producer to prevent net declines in global supply heading into peak demand season, analysts said this week. The Energy Information Administration will issue its monthly drilling productivity report on Tuesday, which will include expectations for March U.S. shale output.

On Friday, Baker Hughes BHGE, +0.74%  reported that number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S., a closely watched metric of activity in the sector, climbed for a second straight week , up 3 to 857 this week.

However, contributing to expectations for tighter supplies, Energy Intelligence reported Thursday , citing sources familiar with the matter, that Saudi Aramco halted oil output this week at Safaniyah, the world's largest offshore oil field, according to a tweet from Amena Bakr , senior correspondent at the news and research service provider. The oil field has capacity to produce more than 1 million barrels of oil a day.

Saudi Aramco told Reuters Friday that all of its facilities and operations, including Safaniyah, are safe and normal. A source familiar with the matter had earlier told the news agency that the oil field was partially shut after a main power cable was cut by a vessel's anchor.

Back on Nymex, March gasoline RBH9, +4.36%  rose 4.3% to $1.573 a gallon, settling 8.8% higher on the week, and March heating oil HOH9, +2.53%  rose 2.5% to $2.02 a gallon—up about 5.9% for the week. Both products also saw the highest front-month contract settlements since November on Friday.

March natural gas NGH19, +2.29%  rose 2% to $2.625 per million British thermal units—up 1.6% for the week.


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Story by Myra P. Saefong from MarketWatch.

02 14 2019 20:13 GMT

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