Oil prices jump, Brent hits approximately $70

NNPC Headquarters, Abuja
NNPC Headquarters, Abuja

Oil prices jumped on Friday, with Brent crude futures hitting their highest in more than two weeks as U.S. stock prices rose.

Investors covered short bets ahead of a weekend in which the U.S. news programme “60 Minutes” will air an interview with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.

Brent futures rose to more than 66.42 dollars , its highest since Feb. 28.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for April, which will expire on Tuesday, rose to 62.54 dollars on Friday, its highest since March 7.

Gains on Wall Street also supported crude futures, which have recently been moving in tandem with U.S. stock indices.

U.S. drillers added four oil rigs in the week to March 16, bringing the total count to 800, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday.

It was the seventh U.S. rig count rise in eight weeks.

On Thursday the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted global oil demand would pick up this year.

The agency raised its forecast for oil demand this year to 99.3 million barrels per day (bpd) from 97.8 million bpd in 2017.

It expected supply from non-OPEC nations to grow by 1.8 million bpd in 2018 to 59.9 million bpd, led by the United States.

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OPEC and other producers have cut output to reduce a global crude glut.

“Demand is gradually improving, and that continues to be priced into the price of oil,” said Mark Watkins, regional investment manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Park City, Utah.

“That’s that positive backdrop that you end up having that really is going to be the catalyst for a true rebalancing of inventories.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. government reported that crude stockpiles in the United States increased by a more-than-expected five million barrels.

(Reuters/NAN)

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