Crude oil ends slightly higher on Friday

Petrol station in Singapore in the Geylang neighborhood; taken August 2018.

Crude oil prices ended the week slightly higher on Friday after two volatile days of trade driven by higher-than-expected U.S. weekly oil and refined product inventory reports juxtaposed with more bullish data from China.

ICE Brent crude oil futures settled up 17 cents at US$80.43 a barrel, while Nymex WTI rose 37 cents to US$71.34 a barrel.

China’s daily crude oil imports in September rose to the highest since May at 9.05 million barrels per day (bpd), up from 9.04 million bpd in August, customs data showed on Friday.

In addition, late on Friday in the U.S., the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said bullish bets on crude oil futures and options in London and New York fell by 36,652 contracts to 296,456 for the period ended 9 October.

In a development suggesting more supply ahead, drillers added eight oil rigs in the U.S. last week, bringing the total to 869 and marking the first gain in a month, Baker Hughes said on Friday.

On Thursday, the Energy Information Administration reported a rise of 5.987 million barrels in crude stockpiles last week, more than double forecasts.

Gasoline inventories unexpectedly rose 951,000 barrels, compared with expectations for a decline of 42,000 thousand barrels, EIA said, while distillates dropped 2.666 million barrels, compared with forecasts for a decrease of 2 million.

Elsewhere, on Friday, the Paris-based International Energy Agency forecast lower oil demand growth in 2018 and 2019, citing trade concerns, higher oil prices and a revision to Chinese data. The IEA’s monthly view followed one by OPEC on Thursday that cut demand forecasts for 2019 for its own crude to 31.8 million bpd because of weaker demand.

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