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Crude Oil Edges Lower at End of Volatile Week

CommoditiesJul 23, 2021 10:18
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By Peter Nurse -- Crude oil prices edged down Friday, holding above $70 a barrel and only marginally lower on the week after riding out a series of negative shocks.

By 10:05 AM ET (1405 GMT), U.S. crude futures traded 0.4% lower at $71.62 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 0.4% to $73.48.

U.S. Gasoline RBOB Futures were down 0.1% at $2.2715 a gallon.

The crude market has been very volatile this week, but has managed to claw back almost all of Monday’s rout to the lowest levels since May on concerns about the rising number of Covid-19 cases involving the delta variant, which weighed on the outlook for fuel demand.

The seven-day average of new cases in the United States was up 53% over the previous week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday, with the delta variant making up more than 80% of the new cases across the country.

Additionally, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, resolved a supply dispute, agreeing to increase supply by an additional 400,000 barrels a day each month until supply cuts imposed at the outset of the pandemic have been fully reversed. 

U.S. crude oil supply data from the EIA also showed a build of just over 2 million barrels last week, the first increase in crude oil inventories since mid-May. 

That said, losses have been minor as a whole this week, with both benchmark contracts down around 0.1% to 0.2%. Underpinning the crude market for much of this calendar year has been the successful rollout of vaccines through much of the developed world, which has permitted economies to reopen, stoking energy demand and draining the glut that built up during the pandemic. 

An illustration of the recovery of the oil market this year has come in the stronger corporate earnings in the sector. 

On Friday, Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) swung back to profit as higher drilling, construction of more wells and cloud-based services targeted at oil and gas customers boosted revenue.

Schlumberger CEO Olivier Le Peuch cited potential for upside, stating that “...we anticipate the growth rate to moderate; however, drilling activity could still surprise to the upside due to private E&P operator spending”.

Also of interest later Friday will be the release of Baker Hughes’ weekly rig count as well as the commitment of traders reports from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.


Crude Oil Edges Lower at End of Volatile Week

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