Oil futures pushed higher Friday after the International Energy Agency underscored a tight market, but the U.S. benchmark threatened to snap a string of seven straight weekly gains after traders appeared to book profits.
West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery
rose $2.12, or 2.3%, to $92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, leaving the U.S. benchmark headed for a 0.4% weekly decline.
April Brent crude
the global benchmark, was up $1.86, or 2%, at $93.27 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, leaving it flat for the week. Both WTI and Brent last week finished at seven-year highs.
March natural gas
fell 1.6% to $3.897 per million British thermal units.
Failures by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies to hit raised targets for crude production have helped push oil prices to their highest level since 2014, the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly market report. The agency said there were signs that the shortfall was worsening, likely contributing to further tightness in an already stretched market, the IEA said.
Hot U.S. inflation data on Thursday showing the January consumer-price index rose 7.5% year-over-year, remaining near a 40-year high, could keep a lid on crude as pressure grows for the Federal Reserve to move aggressively to tighten monetary policy, said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING, in a note.
“In addition, continued progress in Iranian nuclear talks is likely to be holding the market back to a certain degree,” Patterson wrote. The U.S. is indirectly participating in talks between Iran and other countries aimed at returning Iran to the nuclear accord and lifting renewed U.S. sanctions on the country’s crude exports.
Analysts said worries over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine also appeared to calm somewhat, despite the lack of a diplomatic breakthrough and the launch of military exercises by Russian forces this week.
“While these factors are valid reasons for the market to get in line with its recent fundamentals, we think neither of the two worries are far from over,” he said. “We therefore remain positive and would buy the dips for a near term run-up towards the $100 area,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities, in a note.
Crude futures remained higher after oil-field-services company Baker Hughes reported that the number of U.S. oil rigs rose by 19 this week to 516, while gas rigs rose by 2 to 118. The oil-rig count is up 210 from the same time last year, while gas rigs are up by 28.