(MT Newswires) – Crude ended Friday’s session higher, hitting $64 a barrel early in the week, on expectations for tighter supplies amid continued fighting in Libya, tighter US sanctions on Venezuela, and sharply lower oil production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Forces under Libya’s UN-backed government said Sunday they had started a counter-attack against the forces of Khalifa Haftar after he launched an offensive to seize Tripoli, escalating an ongoing power struggle in the oil-rich country. Meanwhile, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on two companies operating in Venezuela’s oil sector, in a move announced on Friday. The measures appeared designed to also hit at Cuba, which imports energy from the Latin American country. Finally, oil production from OPEC member countries and its allies fell by 534,000 barrels a day month-on-month, to average 30.02 million barrels a day in March.
Stockpiles of commercial crude in the US climbed more than expected at the beginning of the month, posting a third-straight weekly build, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Inventories increased by seven million barrels in the week through April 5, reaching 456.5 million barrels and holding in line with the five-year average for this time of year. The build was greater than reports late Tuesday that showed the American Petroleum Institute was expecting an advance of 4.1 million barrels for crude in the week. And, energy services firm Baker Hughes (BHGE) reported Friday that the number of oil rigs operating in the US rose by two to 833, after jumping by 15 last week. The combined oil and gas rig count in the US, however, fell by three to 1,022 as gas rigs slid by five to 189.
Light, sweet crude oil for May delivery rose 0.85% for the week, settling at $63.89 per barrel at the end of Friday’s session. In other energy futures, gasoline was up 2.81% during the week and settling at $2.04 per gallon on Friday. Natural gas fell 0.97% on the week, closing Friday at $2.66 per 1 million British thermal unit.
The SummerHaven Dynamic Commodity Index Total Return Index (SDCITR) was 0.52% higher this week, compared with an increase of 1.62% in the previous week.
Gold wrapped up the Friday higher, but ended the week with modest losses of 0.12%, settling at $1,295.20. The yellow metal reached more than $1,300 an ounce on Wednesday following weakness in the US dollar ahead of the earnings season. This, however, reversed by Thursday, with gold prices sinking to a two-week low as upbeat economic data from China helped ease concerns over a slowdown in global growth, which in turn limited demand for haven metals. On Thursday, China said its consumer price index (CPI) in March rose 2.3% year-on-year — just short of estimates but at the quickest pace since October 2018. Meanwhile, the producer price inflation (PPI) rose 0.4% on-year in March in line with expectations. And on Friday, China reported that its exports for the month of March rose sharply by 14.2% year over year, beating expectations, while imports witnessed an on-year decline of 7.6%, below estimates. The March trade surplus was $32.64 billion. Meanwhile, the same data helped lift industrial metals like copper, as traders deemed the data indicative of increased demand from China. Copper closed Friday’s session at $2.95 per pound, up 1.82% for the week.
In agriculture commodities, grains ended the week lower: corn fell 0.35% in the week and settled at $3.61 per bushel in Friday’s session; wheat slipped 0.69% and settled at $4.65 per bushel at the end of Friday’s session; and soybeans declined 0.39% for the week, and closed Friday at $8.95 per bushel. Other commodities were also in the negative: sugar had a weekly decline of 0.16% and settled at a price of $1.28 per pound on Friday; coffee was around $0.90 per pound at Friday’s close, down 3.17% for the week; and cocoa was down 0.04% for the week and closed Friday’s session at $2,407 per tonne.
The SummerHaven Dynamic Agriculture Index Total Return Index (SDAITR) was up 0.06% for the week, compared with the prior week’s rise of 1.35%.
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