U.S. and global oil benchmarks finished on a mixed note Friday, with both booking their first weekly losses in three weeks amid signs of rising crude supplies.
Investors have contended with calls by President Donald Trump for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to lower oil prices that have touched their highest levels of the year in the past few weeks, fueled by disruptions to supply and efforts by the oil cartel to reduce a glut of oil that punished prices in recent years.
August West Texas Intermediate crude CLQ8, +1.21% the U.S. benchmark, tacked on 86 cents, or 1.2%, to settle at $73.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, recouping part of Thursday’s 1.6% decline. Global benchmark September Brent crude LCOU8, -0.43% however, shed 28 cents, or 0.4%, to $77.11 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.
For the week, WTI oil shed 0.5%, while Brent saw a weekly slide of 2.7%, according to FactSet data. The moves follow two consecutive weeks of gains for both contracts.
Data from the Energy Information Administration on Thursday showed that U.S. crude stockpiles rose by 1.2 million barrels for the week ended June 29. Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts had forecast a fall of 4.5 million barrels. The figures marked the first increase since the week ended June 1.
Contributing further to expectations of higher supplies, Baker Hughes BHGE, +1.26% on Friday reported that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil rose by 5 to 863 this week. That climb followed two weeks of declines in a row.
Trump, meanwhile, in a series of tweets, has called for Saudi officials, which represent the most influential oil producer in OPEC, to help pump more crude and lower prices. OPEC and its allies, including Russia, had agreed in a June meeting to effectively raise output by 1 million barrels a day to help counteract lost barrels from Venezuela and Iran.
But Iran’s OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, told Reuters Thursday that oil would soon cost $100 a barrel because of supply disruptions caused by Trump.
Meanwhile, escalating tensions between China and the U.S., with the two largest economies in the world implementing tariffs $34 billion on their respective imports and the threat of more action, can weigh on crude prices, softening demand expectations.
“The U.S. imposed tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports today, with a further $16 billion set to kick in two weeks. President Trump has said that the final total could reach $550 billion,” wrote Robert Yawger, director of energy at Mizuho Securities U.S.A.
Economic data were a bit mixed Friday. The Labor Department reported that the U.S. added 213,000 jobs in June, but the unemployment rate rose to 4% after a drop to an 18-year low of 3.8% in May. Economists polled by MarketWatch forecast the country added 200,000 jobs in June, with the rate of unemployment holding steady.
Meanwhile, futures prices for natural gas ended higher after the EIA reported Friday that domestic supplies of natural gas rose by 78 billion cubic feet for the week ended June 29. A rise of 76 billion cubic feet was expected, according to an economic calendar from Dow Jones.
August natural gas NGQ18, +0.63% rose 0.7% to $2.858 per million British thermal units. It marked a weekly loss of around 2.3%.
Rounding out action on Nymex, August gasoline RBQ8, -0.97% fell by 1% to $2.109 a gallon, for a weekly loss of about 2%, while August heating oil HOQ8, -0.33% ended at $2.168 a gallon, down 0.5%—contributing to a weekly decline of 1.9%.