Oil prices posting heavy gains

Brent crude oil prices break through the $35 per barrel mark in early trading.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Feb. 26, 2016 at 10:08 AM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices skyrocketed in early Friday trading following an upward revision in U.S. economic growth, fueling momentum sparked by production talks.

A weak start for oil Thursday turned positive later in the day after officials from Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela agreed to meet in March to consider production arrangements. The parties at a meeting in Doha earlier this month agreed to freeze output at January levels provided other producers followed suit.

Thursday's statement was followed by a Friday meeting between Saudi and Russian officials in Riyadh.

Crude oil prices spiked at the start of trading Friday in New York on the news. Brent crude oil moved up 3.9 percent to open at $36.64 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was up 3.4 percent to start the day at $34.18 per barrel

Thursday's rally may have been spurred more by psychological reactions than fundamentals. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told a packed house at an investment conference in Houston earlier this week that a production cut "will not happen." Data released later in the week show U.S. crude oil inventories remained a historic levels, indicating the market remains heavily tilted toward the supply side.

Friday's rally, however, was supported in part by a revision to U.S. economic data. Janet Yellen, the chairwoman at the U.S. Federal Reserve, testified earlier this year that weakness in the energy sector will spilling over into other parts of the economy and dragging on overall growth.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis revised the fourth quarter estimate for gross domestic product upward to 1 percent, an increase of 0.3 percent from the previous estimate. Despite the increase, fourth quarter growth was still a full percentage lower than third quarter 2015.

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