LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) – Oil prices ticked up on Friday, as the market weighed conflicting messages on supply from Russia and Saudi Arabia ahead of the next OPEC+ policy meeting.
Brent crude was up 54 cents at $76.80 a barrel at 1159 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose 67 cents to $72.50 a barrel.
Benchmarks had settled more than $2 per barrel lower on Thursday, after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak played down the prospect of further OPEC+ production cuts at its meeting in Vienna on June 4.
Both prices were still poised to post a second week of gains. A deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, which appears in sight, would likely boost oil prices.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that energy prices were approaching “economically justified” levels, also indicating there could be no immediate change to the group’s production policy.
Their remarks contrasted with comments this week from Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the de-facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), warning short sellers to “watch out”.
Some investors interpreted that as a signal OPEC+ could consider further output cuts.
Worries of weaker-than-expected demand growth globally capped gains ahead of an expected rise in oil demand in the second half of the year, especially from China.
Meanwhile, bets on falling oil prices are on the rise.
The dollar has strengthened this month against a basket of major peers , making dollar-denominated commodities such as oil more expensive for those holding other currencies.