Oil headed for the longest run of weekly gains since May amid signs of rising U.S. fuel demand and easing crude production.
Futures gained as much as 0.8 percent in New York and are set for a fourth weekly advance. Gasoline consumption the past four weeks was at the highest level since September, while crude output remained near the least since November 2014, according to data from the Energy Information Administration Wednesday. Stockpiles still remain at the most since 1930. A measure of price volatility Thursday closed near the lowest in two months.
“The EIA numbers show that consumer demand from cheap oil is helping to rebalance the market, slowly but steadily,” Angus Nicholson, an analyst at IG Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone. “Low prices are having an effect on output and it looks like the end of the $20 a barrel level.”
Oil has recouped its losses this year after slumping to a 12-year low last month amid speculation stronger demand and falling U.S. production will ease a supply glut. The price plunge is still having an affect on energy producers, with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. cutting about 1,000 jobs after plans to park drilling rigs, slash dividends and sell assets.
West Texas Intermediate for April delivery added as much as 29 cents to $38.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and traded at $38.11 at 8:45 a.m. Hong Kong time. The contract fell 45 cents to $37.84 on Thursday. Total volume traded was about 65 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are up 6.1 percent this week.
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Brent for May settlement lost $1.02, or 2.5 percent, to $40.05 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange on Thursday. The contract is up 3.4 percent this week for a third weekly advance. The global benchmark crude closed at a premium of 65 cents to WTI for May.
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