Brent edges towards $70 on robust US data

Singapore — Oil prices pushed higher on Friday, supported by firm US economic data and expectations of a strong rebound in global fuel demand in the third quarter, while concerns eased about the impact of any return of Iranian supplies.

Brent crude futures for July gained 16c, or 0.2%, to $69.62 a barrel by 0.50am GMT while US West Texas Intermediate crude for July was at $67.17 a barrel, up 32c, or 0.5%.

“Oil headed higher on robust US economic data and growing sentiment that if the Iran nuclear deal is revived, it will not include an immediate removal of sanctions and that the oil market will not get quickly flooded with excess supplies,” Oanda analyst Edward Moya said in a note.

Brent and WTI are both on track to post weekly gains of 5%-6% as analysts expect global oil demand to rebound closer to 100- million barrels per day in the third quarter on summer travel in Europe and the US after widespread Covid-19 vaccination programmes.

Robust economic data from the US, the world’s largest economy and oil consumer, also buoyed risk appetite. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest since mid-March 2020, beating estimates.

Balancing expectations of a recovery in demand against a possible increase in Iranian supply, Opec and allies including Russia, a group known as Opec+, is likely to stick to the existing pace of gradually easing oil supply curbs at a meeting on Tuesday, Opec sources said.

Iran and global powers have negotiated in Vienna since April to work out steps that Tehran and Washington must take on sanctions and nuclear activities to return to full compliance with Iran’s 2015 nuclear pact with world powers.

Analysts expect Iran to add 500,000 to 1.5-million barrels per day of crude and condensate to the market once sanctions are lifted.