Crude oil rangebound in Asia on Friday ahead of US rig count data

U.S. two-dollar billsPhoto by Leslie Shaffer

Crude oil prices are expected to be rangebound in Asia on Friday as investors await weekly rig count data from oilfield services provider Baker Hughes.

ICE Brent was last quoted down 0.87 percent at US$79.35 a barrel, while NYMEX WTI was steady at the Thursday settled price of US$68.65 a barrel, a drop of 1.58 percent.

Baker Hughes reports weekly U.S. oil rig count data are due at 1300 U.S. ET, with the last figure at 869, a slight increase.

Overnight, data from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to the Joint Organizations Data Initiative showed Saudi Arabia exported 7.210 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in September, up from 7.120 million bpd in July.

The figures point to an expected steady increase in output as the U.S. moves to fully implement renewed economic sanctions on Iran in early November.

That follows U.S. crude oil inventories data, which showed a rise of 6.5 million barrels in the week to 12 October, according to the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday. compared with forecasts for a stockpile build of 1.6 million barrels and after a build of almost 6 million barrels in the previous week.

Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at OANDA, said that oil prices appeared to have been knocked off their rising trend, at least for the moment.

“With any notion that  Riyadh would cut output and push oil prices higher a distant memory, Tanker Trackers data [showed] that Iran’s oil exports in the first two weeks of October were 10 percent higher than September averages, compounded by massive worldwide inventory builds as the so-called ‘hoarding effect’ intensifies,” he said in a note on Friday.

“What appeared to be a ‘sure-fire bet’ for supply shortfalls when Iranian oil exports drop significantly in November, has morphed into a bit of a white-knuckler of a trade,” he added.

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