Oil prices edge lower on economic concerns, but geopolitics support

Oil prices edge lower on economic concerns, but geopolitics support

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled at $63.08 a barrel, up 98 cents, or 1.58 percent.

Oil futures ended a strong week on an upbeat note Friday, with global benchmark Brent crude ending above the sentiment - important $US70-a-barrel level as traders anxious about more signs of tightening global supplies.

Global oil prices pushed towards their highest levels in five months on Wednesday, with Brent nearing $70 and WTI reaching towards $63.

Brent and WTI are on track for their second and fifth consecutive weeks of gains respectively, capped by concerns that an economic slowdown could dent fuel consumption. In addition, trade talks between the USA and China did not result in the expected market confidence, resulting in pressure on prices that forced them rapidly higher.

Oil prices have gained this year after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and producer allies such as Russian Federation, known as OPEC+, agreed to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to prevent a supply overhang from growing.

The U.S. wanted to set a 2025 target for China to meet trade pledges, Bloomberg reported earlier Thursday.

Military action in Libya, which could disrupt supply from the OPEC member, also supported prices. OPEC's production dropped for a fourth straight month in March while Venezuela's oil output has plunged by half amid power failures, according to people familiar with the matter. The hope came true on Thursday as hedge funds and others long on oil pushed past that resistance after initially holding back on concerns of an unexpected surge in USA crude stockpiles last week. "Add that to a cut in Iran waivers and prices can rise substantially", FGE said.

Pro-Haftar forces pushed back near Libya capital: security source
Libya descended into chaos in the wake of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. There were conflicting reports that Gen Haftar's forces had entered the town of Gharyan, 100km (60 miles) south of Tripoli.

There remain, however, some factors that could bring prices down later this year. Morse believes that the focus for the USA will be sanctions and Venezuela and this would likely see "kinder" actions on those importing Iranian oil.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), for the week ending March 29, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 7.2 million barrels from the previous week.

Russian oil output reached a national record high of 11.16 million bpd previous year.

However, a rising U.S. dollar has dragged down the greenback-denominated crude futures, as the U.S. Dollar Index has been keeping uptrend in the last 12 months.

Also aiding oil sentiment on Thursday was a scheduled meeting between President Donald Trump and China's Vice Premier Liu He at 4:30 P.M. ET, where they were to discuss and possibly announce what could be the outline of a trade deal to end a bitter year of tariff wars between the two giant economies.

"Global demand has weakened, and existing tariffs on Chinese goods shipments to the US are providing an additional drag", rating agency Moody's said on Monday, although it added that Chinese stimulus measures would likely support growth over 2019.

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