Slow gains for oil prices in early Friday trading

A volatile week for oil prices, though the global benchmark, Brent, is up about 3 percent for the week after heavy losses for most of June.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  July 14, 2017 at 9:50 AM
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July 14 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices moved between short gains and losses in early Friday trading as OPEC production figures balanced against emerging problems for U.S. shale.

Crude oil prices have been volatile this week, with several sessions seeing early-day declines erased by the end of U.S. trading. Reports from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the International Energy Agency all offered fodder to drive oscillating oil prices this week.

Libya and Nigeria are adding more oil to the market in part because they're exempt from a multilateral deal to curb output as part of an OPEC-led balancing effort. In its report this week, the IEA said each month has brought with it more concerns about the effectiveness of the effort, adding confidence was waning for oil investors.

Strong demand, this week from China, has offered some support for crude oil prices. The price for Brent crude oil is up more than 3 percent for the week.

An emailed market report from London oil broker PVM said total global oil supply increased by about three quarters of a million barrels last month. Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst for the PRICE Futures Group in Chicago, said in a daily emailed newsletter that crude oil inventories were draining in a sign that rebalancing was under way. Nevertheless, operators in U.S. shale basins may be sitting on the sidelines with oil lingering in the mid- to upper-$40s.

"Shale investors put on the breaks until they see if the market starts to stabilize," he wrote.

Crude oil prices wavered between gains and losses in early Friday trading. The price for Brent crude oil was up 0.3 percent at 9:25 EDT to $48.58 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was up 0.35 percent to $46.24 per barrel.

Price may be influenced later in the trading day when oilfield services company Baker Hughes releases its weekly report on exploration and production activity. Reported as rig counts, the metric serves as a loose gauge of industry confidence, with gains showing an increased appetite for spending.

State regulators in North Dakota, home to the Bakken shale oil reserve, pointed to $45 per barrel for WTI as the deciding point for rig counts. State counts would be expected to move lower if WTI stays below $45 per barrel for more than 30 days.

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