Oil flat, heads for weekly drop as rising crude supply weighs

Oil flat, heads for weekly drop as rising crude supply weighs

Oil prices rose on Friday, on track for a weekly gain as market participants followed the USA stock market higher and looked to cover short bets ahead of a weekend in which the "60 Minutes" news programme will air an interview with Saudi Arabia's crown prince. WTI was set to fall 1.3% this week, reversing the previous week's 1.3% gain.

"Looking forward to next week, the Saudi crown prince (Mohammed bin Salman) will be in Washington with the potential for more strong rhetoric against Iran that could add support and volatility", Jakob of Petromatrix added.

"You've got a lot going on, on the world stage", Tamar Essner, an analyst at Nasdaq Inc.in NY, said by telephone. During the session, Brent hit $66.42, its highest since February 28.

West Texas Intermediate for April delivery advanced $1.15 to settle at $62.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest level in more than a week.

Gasoline futures recently fell 0.49%, to $1.9154 a gallon.

Earlier both contracts were up over a dollar.

Gains on Wall Street also supported prices as crude futures have recently been moving in tandem with United States stock indices.

Market participants will be looking ahead to USA rig count data due at 1 p.m. EDT on Friday. The U.S. benchmark crude ended the session 1.9% higher on Friday, driving futures to post a 0.5% rise this week.

On Thursday the International Energy Agency (IEA) said global oil demand is expected to pick up this year but supply is growing at a faster pace, leading to a rise in inventories in the first quarter of 2018.

The agency raised its forecast for oil demand this year to 99.3 million barrels per day from 97.8 million bpd in 2017, and said it expected supply from non-Opec nations to grow by 1.8 million bpd in 2018 to 59.9 million bpd, led by the US.

Meanwhile, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers are continuing production cuts in an effort to drain a global glut.

Increased U.S. oil output "is likely to take prices back below USD60/bbl, and that shale's ability to meet a significant portion of global demand growth will keep prices in the USD50-60/bbl range over the long term", said Fitch Ratings in a note out Wednesday.

OPEC and 10 producers outside the oil cartel, including Russian Federation, have been holding back crude output by 1.8 million barrels a day since the start of past year, part of an effort to rein a supply glut and prop up prices.