Oil Off 2-Month Lows but Faces Sharp Weekly Loss

Markets Reuters

Crude prices bounced back on Friday from two-month lows hit in the previous session, but benchmark Brent was in line for its largest weekly decline since January as bearish economic indicators weighed on oil.

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Prices have gyrated as a glut of refined products and slowing economic growth contrasted with the risk of supply disruptions and expectations that the world's overhang of crude would soon begin to recede.

Brent crude futures were trading at $46.58 per barrel at 0933 GMT, up 18 cents from their last settlement. U.S. crude was up 17 cents at $45.31 a barrel.

Still, Brent and U.S. crude were heading for weekly losses of more than 7 percent, the deepest such declines since January and February, respectively.

"It could well be that a down cycle on oil's own fundamentals is now starting," analysts at JBC said in a note.

Prices fell 5 percent on Thursday on news that a U.S. weekly crude draw was lower than many analysts had expected.

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Yet on Friday traders said the price fall had been an overreaction, as crude stocks had dropped for almost two months straight and U.S. production had fallen 12.3 percent since 2015 peaks.

"Declining U.S. production is contributing hugely to the tightening of global supply, which is reduced in any case because of high production outages in OPEC countries," Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said.

Supply losses, particularly in Nigeria, underpinned prices. On Friday, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps said attackers had blown up an oil pipeline in Nigeria's southern Bayelsa state operated by a subsidiary of Italy's Eni.

Still, the outlook appeared volatile, as tanks were filled with oil products and economic worries created concerns over demand growth.

On Friday, data showed that German exports in May posted their steepest monthly decline in nine months, a further sign that weak global demand is curbing growth in Europe's largest economy.

"While we are bullish for next year, we continue to be cautious for the rest of this year," Societe Generale oil analyst Michael Wittner said, adding "for the time being, the path of least resistance for oil prices is lower."

(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson)