(Bloomberg) Oil held steady amid signs of weaker demand, but remained on track for the biggest weekly gain in more than a month as supplies tightened.Futures were little changed in New York, on course for a weekly increase of more than 4%. U.S. government data on Wednesday showed a surprise pullback in the nation’s crude stockpiles last week, and on Thursday a critical North Sea pipeline was briefly halted by a power loss. Yet weak economic data from Germany and South Korea fanned concerns that world fuel demand is flagging, and the U.S.-China trade clash continued to put a dampener on investor sentiment.
“The near-term fundamentals are actually tight,” Abhishek Deshpande, head of global oil-market research at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said in a Bloomberg television interview. “If you were to see any positive trade dialogue emerging,” then “you could see a quick switch in investor positioning.”
Oil is down about 16% from an April peak as the trade spat between Washington and Beijing dents demand, though President Donald Trump has raised expectations that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping will sign a phase-one deal in Chile next month.
West Texas Intermediate for December delivery lost 10 cents to $56.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 10:18 a.m. London time. The contract added 26 cents to close at $56.23 on Thursday. Prices are up 4.4% this week, the most since the week ended Sept. 20.
Brent for December settlement was almost unchanged at $61.66 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange. Prices are 3.8% higher this week. The global benchmark crude traded at a $5.51 premium to WTI.
Other oil market news
The North Sea Forties pipeline system has begun to restart following a power loss, operator Ineos Group Holding SA said Thursday afternoon.
Companies still doing business with a U.S.-sanctioned unit of China’s biggest shipping company have less than 60 days to wind down their transactions.
Russian oil production was about 47,000 barrels a day above its OPEC+ target in the first three weeks of October, the narrowest gap since the Druzhba crude contamination incident earlier in the year.
Iraq’s oil exports were cut by 150,000 barrels a day in October as the country committed to the OPEC output deal, Deputy Oil Minister Fayyad Al-Nima said in Baghdad.
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