NEW YORK, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices entered Friday in steady territory ahead of a data release on exploration and production trends, though economic data show little momentum.
Crude oil prices are up more than $10 per barrel since Aug. 1, a rally supported in part by recent sentiments from Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The price for Brent crude oil is up about 7 percent since Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said "any possible action" was on the table to stabilize the energy market.
The market was characterized by a heavy tilt toward the supply side early this year. A recent report from the American Petroleum Institute show that, for July, the U.S. market was more or less flat, with soaring consumer demand for fuel products balanced by higher gasoline production, despite declines in U.S. crude oil production.
In what has been a customary trend for August, crude oil prices lost ground in overnight trading only to move in fits and starts by the start of trading in New York. The price for Brent crude moved lower by 0.6 percent to start the day at $50.59 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was off by 0.2 percent to open at $48.12 per barrel.
Oil prices in July moved lower after doubts circulated about the trajectory of the European economy in the wake of the British decision to leave the European Union. In mid-July, a committee member of the Bank of England said that, while the so-called Brexit is unlikely to have a pronounced impact on the global economy, there is still a high level of uncertainty.
Data from the EU show inflation in the countries that still use the euro currency was up 0.2 percent in July, an increase from the 0.1 percent reported in June, but unchanged from the previous year.
Crude oil prices may be influenced later in the day by weekly data from Baker Hughes in the form of rig counts that serve as a loose gauge of industry confidence. Fewer rigs would indicate a reluctance to invest, while gains would suggest companies see the economic conditions are favorable for a return to work.