Oil prices edged higher in volatile trading on Friday as signs of strengthening demand was offset by still-high global stocks and concerns about economic growth.
Benchmark Brent and U.S. WTI crude oil contracts were on track for weekly gains, but fluctuated between intraday gains to losses amid conflicting signals on the supply-demand picture.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were up 52 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $48.94 per barrel at 2:35 p.m. (1835 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 46 cents, or 1 percent, $46.54.
Prices briefly pulled back after Baker Hughes reported its weekly count of oil rigs operating in the United States jumped by 2 rigs to a total of 765. The rig count has only dipped twice this year, but has shown signs of plateauing recently.
"It's been a jumpy Friday in the oil market," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy with Saxo Bank, adding that the volatility was "primarily driven by traders covering what up until recently was an extended short position."