Energy

Oil sinks 2.2% this week, settling at $61.94, as US stockpiles rise and supply fears fade

Key Points
  • A strong U.S. jobs report boosts demand sentiment as production losses in sanctions-hit Iran and Venezuela tighten the oil market.
  • Oil prices gains are limited by a spike in U.S. crude inventories reported earlier this week.
  • Production from Saudi Arabia could edge higher in June to meet domestic demand for power generation.
Oil pumps are seen in Lake Maracaibo, in Lagunillas, Ciudad Ojeda, in the state of Zulia, Venezuela.
Isaac Urrutia | Reuters

Oil prices edged up on Friday, as strong U.S. economic data boosted demand sentiment and as production losses in sanctions-hit Iran and Venezuela tightened the market.

Still, oil futures posted weekly declines on a jump in U.S. crude inventories reported this week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures settled 13 cents higher at $61.94 per barrel, after sinking 2.8% on Thursday. WTI fell 2.2% this week, logging its second straight weekly decline.

Brent crude oil futures rose 10 cents to $70.85 per barrel. The international benchmark for oil prices slumped 2% in the previous session and ended the week 1.8 percent lower, for its first weekly loss in five weeks.

A U.S. jobs report that showed growth surging in April and the unemployment rate dropping to a more than 49-year low of 3.6%, increased the expectation that crude demand would stay strong, said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

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"After the strong jobs report, the market is kind of putting that big build this week into perspective," Flynn said.

Equities rallied and the U.S. dollar weakened following the report, which also supported oil futures. Oil prices tend to follow moves in equities, and demand for the U.S. dollar-linked commodity often increases when the greenback slips.

Gains in the oil market, however, were limited by a spike in U.S. crude inventories reported this week and rising oil production, which hit a record 12.3 million barrels per day last week.

Exports of U.S. crude broke through 3 million bpd in November for the first time and hit a record 3.6 million bpd earlier this year, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

U.S. energy firms this week increased the number of oil rigs operating for the first time in three weeks even as crude output decelerates with the rig count dropping five months in a row due to spending cuts.

Companies added two oil rigs in the week to May 3, bringing the total count to 807, lower than the 834 rigs active this time last year, Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday.

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U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela and supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, helped to tighten the market and support prices.

Production from Saudi Arabia could edge higher in June to meet domestic demand for power generation, though output will remain within its quota in the supply pact, sources familiar with the kingdom's policy said.

The world's top crude exporter is expected to produce about 10 million bpd in May, slightly higher than in April but still below its 10.3 million bpd quota under the OPEC-led deal, industry sources said.

Traders said that prices were put under pressure by Russia's pumping clean oil through the Druzhba pipeline towards western Europe again, after several countries halted imports last week because of contamination.

Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are offering their domestic refiners about 8 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves after supplies from the Druzhba pipeline were halted, industry sources said on Friday.

— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.