NEW YORK: Oil prices edged lower on Friday, but were on track for 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 US 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 are on track for around a 3.6% weekly increase - a fifth straight week of gains. Brent is also on track for a monthly gain of 12%, while WTI is set to rise 13%.

By 1:25 p.m. EDT (1725 GMT), Brent crude had slipped 14 cents to $84.10 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dipped 24 cents to $79.85 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 US 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, US 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 US 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.

It would “take a brave man to bet against re-visiting the 2023 summit set at $89.09” a barrel for Brent oil in January, added PVM’s Varga.


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