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WTI catches a break, ends near $98 on profit-taking

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U.S. oil futures rose for a second day on Friday while European Brent crude dipped, tightening the transatlantic spread as traders bet that increasing refinery operations and a major new Midwest pipeline would keep rising inventories in check.

Brent was pressured by news that Scotland's Grangemouth refinery, which provides power for a major oil pipeline, will remain open, keeping streams of the North Sea crude that underpins the Brent contract flowing.

U.S gasoline futures also succumbed to selling pressure, after gaining sharply in the previous session on news of a refinery closure. Traders sold crack spreads as supplies of the fuel remain high, some brokers said.


Brent crude slipped 40 cents to float under $107 a barrel, poised to post its biggest weekly decline in a month. U.S. oil settled up 74 cents at $97.85, but still down for the week.

Oil supplies have improved in recent weeks with higher output from several producers in the Middle East and North Africa and several analysts see oil heading lower.

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