Oil prices mixed after edging up from two-week lows; set for weekly drop

CNBC

  • U.S. oil prices were mixed on Friday, after three days of declines.
  • Gains were limited as Asian share markets extended a selloff on Wall Street after news of planned U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium.

U.S. oil prices were mixed on Friday, after three days of declines, but any gains were limited as Asian share markets extended a selloff on Wall Street after news of planned U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium raised fears of a trade war.

President Donald Trump announced he would impose hefty tariffs on the two metals to protect U.S. producers, risking retaliation from major trade partners like China, Europe and neighboring Canada.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 1 cent at $60.98 by 0432 GMT after touching a two-week low of $60.18 a day earlier.

Global benchmark Brent was up 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $63.90 a barrel, after settled down 1.4 percent on Thursday, also a two-week low. Brent is set for a weekly fall of 5.1 percent.

U.S. crude is on track for a 4 percent drop this week, its first weekly decline in three, having given up much of the gains in recent weeks when sentiment was boosted by a fall in inventories at the Cushing delivery point for WTI.

Oil and gas sectors drop on steel and aluminum tariff news  

“The market is not showing any obvious signs of turning around the mood. We are being driven by the pick up in U.S. inventories and in general terms the market went a bit to far too soon,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

“Then we have the volatility in the U.S. dollar and the implications of the tariff news to factor in,” he said.

U.S. crude stocks rose last week even as refineries hiked output, increasing by 3 million barrels, compared with expectations for an increase of 2.1 million barrels.

Still, stocks fell again at Cushing in Oklahoma, with inventories down by 1.2 million barrels, the 10th consecutive week of declines, the Energy Information Administration said this week.

“Although destocking in Cushing has continued, with stocks there falling below 30 million barrels for the first time since late 2014, the overall increase in U.S. oil stocks has overshadowed the good news,” Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at Forex.com, said in a note.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will hold a dinner on Monday in Houston with U.S. shale firms, the latest sign of the producer group widening talks about how best to tame a global oil glut.

U.S. crude output slipped in the last month of 2017, but in November hit an all-time high of 10.057 million barrels per day (bpd). Weekly data showed another record and further gains are expected.