Oil prices extended gains on Friday and were on course for a weekly gain of about 7% with an improved oil demand outlook and strong economic recoveries in China and the United States offsetting concerns about spikes in COVID-19 infections.
Brent crude futures rose 30 cents, or 0.5%, to $67.24 a barrel at 0551 GMT, following a 36 cent rise on Thursday.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were 28 cents, or 0.4%, higher to $63.74 a barrel, after climbing 31 cents on Thursday.
China’s 2021 net crude oil imports are forecast to grow 3.4% this year versus 2020 to about 11.2 million barrels per day, a unit of top oil and gas group China National Petroleum Company said.
China reported a record 18.3% jump in economic growth in the first quarter from a coronavirus-induced slump earlier last year, though the pace of expansion is expected to moderate later in the year. read more
Strong economic recoveries around the world and supply curbs by OPEC and its allies, together called OPEC+, as well as a cautious response to higher prices by U.S. oil producers are supporting the market, said Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk.
“We still think there’s a clear risk prices could rise up to $70 a barrel before we see a more meaningful pull back,” Smirk said.
He said the longer prices stay elevated, the more supply is likely to return to the market, and the risks of COVID-19 cases spiking in places like India and Europe could eventually drive prices down.
Taking into account worsening coronavirus developments in some countries, “crude overshot to the upside this week and a pullback is now due,” said Vandana Hari, energy analyst at Vanda Insights.
“India and major economies in Europe need to be reckoned with to complete the oil demand picture,” said Hari.