Oil slips in early trade

US crude futures are in their longest winning streak since records began in 1983, helped by a drop in crude and product stockpiles last week, reflecting better demand in the world’s largest oil consumer.

West Texas Intermediate for July delivery was at $60.55 a barrel, down 17 cents on the day but poised to post gains for the 10th week.

July Brent crude fell 23 cents to $66.31 a barrel early on Friday after closing up 2.3% on Thursday. Front-month Brent prices are set to post a small drop this week.

“Sentiment was buoyed by falling inventory and strong demand in the crude oil markets,” ANZ analysts said in a note, adding that Wednesday’s data from the Energy Information Administration showed a strong decline in US oil products, suggesting end-user demand has been strong.

“With US travel expected to reach a 10-year high over Memorial Day, according to AAA (American Automobile Association), product inventory is expected to decline even further over coming weeks,” the analysts said.

Global demand for oil products has been surprisingly strong as low prices have boosted consumption, even in Europe, where gasoline growth has been declining, an executive from Vitol, the world’s largest independent oil trader, said earlier this week.

Fighting in Iraq added to geopolitical tension in the Middle East. Concern that growing conflicts in the region could disrupt supply have underpinned oil prices.

A weaker dollar in the past month has also made dollar-denominated oil more affordable for investors who hold other currencies.

Investors are looking to a speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday for more indication on when interest rate increases may come and the subsequent impact on the dollar.

Baker Hughes data on US weekly rig counts, widely used as a barometer for oil production, will also be out on Friday.


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