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WTI, Brent post third straight weekly loss

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Private fishing boats near offshore petroleum drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. 

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Crude oil futures Friday posted a third straight weekly loss on worries that demand may be softening even as OPEC+ plans to increase production.

U.S. crude oil and global benchmark Brent sold off earlier in the week after OPEC+ members announced that they would start phasing out 2.2 million barrels per day in production cuts starting in October. Poor U.S. manufacturing data and weak private payrolls also weighed on the market.

Oil prices have bounced back over the past two days on hopes that lower rates might boost demand, but the two crude benchmarks are still down about 2% for the week.

Here are Friday’s closing energy prices:

  • West Texas Intermediate July contract: $75.53 a barrel, down 3 cents. Year to date, U.S. oil is up 5.4%.
  • Brent August contract: $79.62 a barrel, down 25 cents. Year to date, the global benchmark is ahead by 3.3%.
  • RBOB Gasoline July contract: $2.38 per gallon, down 0.62%. Year to date, gasoline futures are higher by 13.32%.
  • Natural Gas July contract: $2.91 per thousand cubic feet, up 3.44%. Year to date, gas has risen 16%.

The OPEC+ production increase would start when refineries are down for fall maintenance and then ramp up as demand typically weakens heading into winter.

Still, oil market analysts have widely described this week’s sell-off as an overreaction, noting that the OPEC+ production increase does not start until October. In the meantime, oil balances should tighten as the cuts remain in place during the summer driving season when demand typically rises, according to JPMorgan.

JPMorgan and Barclays have said oil demand growth remains relatively healthy.

Analysts at JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and RBC Capital Markets have also said OPEC+ is likely to pause any production increases if the market deteriorates substantially and cannot absorb additional barrels.

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