London — Oil prices rose on Friday and were broadly flat on the week as concern over oil demand growth was balanced by Saudi output cuts.
Brent crude futures rose 36 cents, or 0.5%, to $76.32 a barrel by 0932 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 34 cents, or 0.5%, at $71.63.
Both benchmarks lost about $1 on Thursday, having rebounded from a slump of more than $3 after the U.S. and Iran denied a report by the Middle East Eye that they were close to a nuclear deal that could have brought Iranian barrels back to the market.
Oil prices had risen early in the week, buoyed by Saudi Arabia’s pledge over the weekend to cut output, but pared gains on a rise in U.S. fuel stocks and weak Chinese export data.
“Attention will now shift back to the precarious state of the oil demand picture,” said PVM analyst Stephen Brennock.
Expectations of tighter supply and higher demand as the United States enters the summer holiday season, when more people drive, are being offset by worries over a slow pickup in China’s fuel demand.
Though the Chinese economic recovery has been slower than expected, India – the world’s third-largest oil consumer – has managed to sustain economic momentum.
Strong factory activity helped to lift Indian fuel consumption in May, driving diesel sales to a record high.
Some analysts expect oil prices to rise if the U.S. Federal Reserve skips a interest rate hike at its next meeting over June 13-14.
*Shadia Nasralla, Yuka Obayashi & Sudarshan Varadhan, Editing: David Goodman – Reuters
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