Oil futures rose Friday, but were on track to end a streak of nine, consecutive weekly gains as rising U.S. crude inventories, the potential for revived Iran nuclear talks, and a retreat by natural-gas futures dragged crude off multiyear highs.
West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery rose 29 cents, or 0.4%, to $83.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The U.S. benchmark was on track for a 0.8% weekly fall after hitting a seven-year high earlier in the week. That would end a nine-week streak of gains based on the most actively traded contract, according to FactSet.
December Brent crude the global benchmark, was up 35 cents, or 0.4%, at $84.01 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. January Brent the most actively traded contract, rose 31 cents, or 0.4%, to $83.97 a barrel. Brent was on track for a 1.8% weekly fall, according to FactSet.
“The sharp rise in U.S. crude oil stocks and the expectation of nuclear talks being resumed with Iran have temporarily eased concerns about supply to some extent, leading to profit-taking,” said Carsten Fritsch, commodity analyst at Commerzbank, in a note. “This does nothing to change the tight market situation, however.”
The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported that U.S. crude inventories rose a larger-than-expected 4.3 million barrels last week. Also Wednesday, Iran on Wednesday indicated that it plans to resume talks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran nuclear deal, which could pave the way for the removal of U.S. sanctions that were reimposed by the Trump administration after it pulled Washington out of the agreement in 2018.
While crude was taking a breather from its recent run, analysts underlined tight market conditions. Despite the rise in overall U.S. crude inventories last week, supplies in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery hub for Nymex futures, continued to fall and were on pace to empty tanks by the end of the year, analysts said.
Meanwhile, the discount for WTI crude to Brent has narrowed sharply, further underlining tight U.S. market conditions.
Natural-gas futures remain on track for a 10% weekly rise but retreated more than 6% on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin told Gazprom to ship more natural-gas westward to European customers.