Oil prices settle higher to wrap up weekly gain as economic data lift demand hopes

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Investing.com — Oil prices settled higher Friday, wrapping up the week with a win as signs of slowing U.S. inflation boosted rate cut hopes just as China rolled out more stimulus, giving a big boost to hopes for firmer demand.

At 14:30 ET (19:30 GMT), rose 0.8% to $83.92 a barrel and gained 0.9% to $79.57 a barrel.

Both contracts ended the week with gains of between 0.9% and nearly 1%, with a bulk of gains coming after U.S. readings came in softer than expected.

Weekly gains likely

The April CPI reading battered the and increased expectations that the Federal Reserve could begin trimming rates as soon as September, with looser monetary conditions boding well for crude demand.

But this notion was somewhat offset by a string of Fed officials warning that the central bank needed more convincing that inflation was coming down, before it could begin trimming rates.

Baker Hughes rig count up

Oilfield services firm Baker Hughes reported Friday its weekly U.S. rig count rose by one to 497.

The positive end to the week for oil prices comes ahead of CFTC positioning data slated for release later in the day that will signal how healthy appetite is for bullish bets on oil.

Oil markets see mixed cues

Crude markets were also grappling with mixed cues on demand this week. A bigger-than-expected draw in U.S. pushed up optimism over improving demand as the travel-heavy summer season approaches.

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But this was offset by the International Energy Agency slightly trimming its annual demand forecast, citing uncertainty over the global economy amid sticky inflation and potentially high for longer rates.

On the other hand, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries maintained its demand forecast for 2024, citing an eventual economic recovery in China and potentially lower interest rates later in the year.

The OPEC is also expected to maintain its current pace of production cuts beyond end-June, presenting a tighter outlook for supply.

“Oil inventories falling by less than we had expected in recent weeks and U.S. interest rates staying higher for longer are likely to have an impact on OPEC+’s policy of being proactive, preemptive, and precautionary,” said analysts at UBS, in a note dated May 14.

“We now expect the eight member states with voluntary production cuts to extend them by at least three months ahead of the ordinary meeting at the beginning of June.”

More China cues on tap

China said it will begin a massive, $1 trillion bond issuance this week- Beijing’s first major act of fiscal stimulus as it struggles to shore up a sluggish economic recovery.

Chinese grew more than expected in April, indicating that a recovery in the country’s massive manufacturing sector remained on track amid increased government support.

But signs of weak consumption in the country persisted, as growth in largely missed expectations in April, while China’s new home prices fell at the fastest monthly pace in over nine years.

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China is widely expected to hold benchmark lending rates steady on Monday, although expectations are growing for a cut in the mortgage reference rate as the authorities scramble to boost housing.

(Peter Nurse, Ambar Warrick contributed to this article.)