Oil Prices Pull Back After Hitting Two-Month High

By Jenny W. Hsu Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oil futures eased in Asia on Friday as investors widely moved to the sidelines in commodities and equities after this week's strength.

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Crude has risen every day this week, rising some 7% in the process to hit two-month highs amid a raft of positive data points and a renewed commitment from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to rein in production and exports.

Analysts say later Friday's weekly report on U.S. oil-rig activity will be an important factor in determining how producers there are coping with prolonged soft prices. After strong growth in the first half of this year, increases have largely stopped this month.

"What we will be looking for is if the growth has plateaued," said Gao Jian, an energy analyst at Shandong-based SCI International.

More market watchers are getting upbeat about the market, saying falling U.S. and European inventories along with still-robust demand from Asia means oil prices should hold up near-term.

London-based Energy Aspects noted Thursday that in Europe, daily crude demand rebounded strongly in May as "solid vehicle sales, a stronger euro, low retail prices and a booming construction sector (including roadbuilding) mean European demand growth will be well-supported." the firm said.

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On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in September recently traded down 0.1% at $49 a barrel in the Globex electronic session. September Brent crude on London's ICE Futures exchange eased 0.1% to $51.45.

Nymex September diesel down 0.2% to $1.6047 a gallon and reformulated gasoline blendstock dropped 0.4% to $1.6138 but ICE gasoil rose 0.1% to $475.75 per metric ton.

Write to Jenny W. Hsu at jenny.hsu@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 27, 2017 22:58 ET (02:58 GMT)