Trading Patterns and Price Fluctuations
Oil prices experienced an uptick on Friday but remained broadly steady throughout the week. This stability was primarily due to concerns surrounding oil demand growth and Saudi Arabia's decision to curtail output. Brent crude futures increased 36 cents, representing a 0.5% growth, to reach $76.32 a barrel by 0932 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude mirrored this trend, escalating by 34 cents or 0.5%, at $71.63.
Impact of Geopolitical Events on Oil Prices
Both oil benchmarks experienced a setback on Thursday, shedding roughly $1 after recuperating from a more than $3 slump. This was triggered by the U.S. and Iran's denial of the Middle East Eye report, which had alleged a nearing nuclear deal potentially reintroducing Iranian oil to the market. Earlier in the week, however, oil prices had found support in Saudi Arabia's commitment to reduce its oil output.
Economic Data and Fuel Demand Concerns
Despite the encouraging signs from Saudi Arabia, oil prices' gains were somewhat curtailed due to a rise in U.S. fuel stocks and disappointing Chinese export data. "Attention will now shift back to the precarious state of the oil demand picture," commented Stephen Brennock, an analyst at PVM. Ongoing apprehensions about China's sluggish fuel demand recovery despite the upcoming U.S. summer holiday season typically herald higher demand due to increased driving.
Performance of Major Oil Consumers
While China's economic recovery has been slower than anticipated, India - the world's third-largest oil consumer - has displayed economic resilience. Strong factory activity in May lifted Indian fuel consumption, pushing diesel sales to an all-time high.
Monetary Policy and Future Oil Price Prospects
Some market analysts predict an upswing in oil prices if the U.S. Federal Reserve holds off on an interest rate hike at its next meeting slated for June 13-14. Factors like demand fears, supply cuts, and monetary policy decisions continue to make the oil market a closely watched.