Oil rises 1% as markets await OPEC+ decision

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Oil prices rose on Friday and were heading for weekly gains as markets awaited an OPEC+ decision on supply agreements for the second quarter. At the same time, fresh U.S. and Chinese economic data were being weighed. Brent futures for May rose by 1.23% or $1.01 to $82.92 a barrel by 0950 GMT, while the April Brent futures contract expired on Feb. 29 at $83.62 a barrel. Additionally, US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for April rose 1.24%, or 97 cents, to $79.23 a barrel. WTI is on track for a 3.6% increase this week, while following the switch in contract months, Brent is around 1.6% higher than last week’s settlement price. 


The possibility of Saudi-led OPEC+ continuing with its supply cuts beyond the first quarter, and potentially until the end of 2024, will likely keep oil prices above $80 a barrel, according to DBS Bank energy sector team lead Suvro Sarkar. The decision on extending OPEC+ cuts is expected in the first week of March, sources have said, with individual countries expected to announce their decisions. 


A Reuters survey showed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 26.42 million barrels per day (bpd) in February, up 90,000 bpd from January. Strong expectations of Saudi Arabia keeping term prices of crude it sells to Asian customers little changed in April from March levels also underpinned the market on Friday. On the demand side, Chinese manufacturing activity shrank for the fifth straight month in February, an official survey showed. Despite the Chinese manufacturing activity’s decline, supporting prices, the US personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index showed January inflation in line with economists’ expectations on Thursday, reinforcing market bets for a June interest rate cut. “The process of disinflation is reassuringly underway, therefore smart money is currently on a June rate cut,” PVM analyst Tamas Varga said in a note on Friday.

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