Oil prices steadied Friday as investors kept close watch on news from the Strait of Hormuz, where an attack on two tankers triggered concerns about disruptions to the global flow of the commodity.
West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery CLN19, -0.27% was slightly weaker at $52.24 a barrel. The tanker attacks drove a 2.2% gain for oil on Thursday, but the contract is still facing a weekly loss of 3% with one session to go.
August Brent crude BRNQ19, +0.15% rose 34 cents, or 0.6%, to $61.64 a barrel after a gain of 2.2% of Thursday. Brent is down about 2.7% for the week, not accounting for Friday’s session.
U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, accused Iran of orchestrating a series of attacks on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday to get the U.S. ease up on sanctions. The narrow waterway is seen as the world most sensitive crude transportation choke point.
While Iran has denied any involvement, the U.S. military on Friday released a video showing what it claimed was Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the key waterway.
Thursday’s gains came on the heels of sharp losses for oil on Wednesday, driven by a bigger-than-expected climb in U.S. crude inventories. WTI slid 4% to $51.14 on Wednesday, marking the lowest front-month contract finish since Jan. 14, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Simmering worries about energy demand on the back of growing U.S.-China trade tensions also pressured the commodity.
On Friday, the International Energy Agency will release own monthly oil report, which will include forecasts for 2020. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cut its forecast for growth in world oil demand on Thursday.
The market is also awaiting a decision by OPEC and its allies on whether to extend their production-cut deal past the end of this month, when it expires.
July natural gas NGN19, +0.26% rose 0.4% to $2.334 per million British thermal units.
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