NEW YORK: Oil settled modestly lower on Friday but secured a weekly gain on a stronger demand outlook and signs of economic recovery in China and the United States that offset concerns about rising Covid-19 infections in other major economies.
Brent crude settled down 17 US cents, or 0.3 per cent, at US$66.77 a barrel. The global benchmark finished up 6 per cent on the week after rising in the past four sessions, report agencies.US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled down 33 cUS ents, or 0.5 per cent, at US$63.13.
China’s first-quarter gross domestic product jumped 18.3 per cent year on year, official data showed. That followed a big increase in US retail sales and a drop in unemployment claims released on Thursday.
“Strong economic data, spurred by the Biden US$1,400 stimulus check, is a huge positive development for the energy patch,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.
This week, both the International Energy Agency and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) increased their forecasts for oil demand growth for 2021, citing the stronger-than-expected rebound in activity in certain economies.
Those forecasts were also supported by Wednesday’s government data that showed overall US crude inventories fell by 5.9 million barrels as refining activity picked up.
Not all economies are recovering, however, as India’s coronavirus infection rate hit a record while Germany’s chancellor on Friday said a third wave of the virus had the country in its grip.Oil has recovered from pandemic-induced lows last year, helped by record cuts to oil output by OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+.