New York — Oil prices pulled back from multi-year highs on Friday, as Germany’s chancellor and the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman cautioned that demand disruptions from COVID-19 may not be over.
Brent crude futures rose 35 cents, or 0.5%, to $84.96 a barrel at 11:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT), after Thursday’s three-year high of $86.10. The benchmark is set for its seventh weekly gain.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 51 cents, or 0.5%, to reach $83.01 a barrel, not far off a seven-year high hit this week. The grade is heading for its ninth weekly rise.
“Supply is still very, very tight, the market is just cautious about the possibility of an uptick in COVID cases in Russia, China and now Germany,” said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Prices pulled back from earlier intraday highs after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the pandemic is not yet over.
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he could not rule out another COVID spike this winter.
Prices have been boosted by worries about coal and gas shortages in China, India and Europe, spurring some power generators to switch from gas to fuel oil and diesel.
Winter weather in much of the United States is expected to be warmer than average, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast.
U.S. crude found support this week as investors eyed low crude stocks at the U.S. storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma.
U.S. Energy Information Administration data on Wednesday showed crude stocks at Cushing fell to 31.2 million barrels, their lowest level since October 2018.
“America’s gasoline demand appears to be experiencing an Indian summer,” PVM analysts said in a note, pointing to the highest implied demand for this time of year since 2007 despite high pump prices.
- Reuters (Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Koustav Samanta in Singapore; Editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan)
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