finance

Oil slides but set for 5th weekly gain on lingering supply concerns



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Oil and gas tanks are seen at an oil warehouse at a port in Zhuhai, China October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

By Scott DiSavino

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Oil prices slid for a second day on Friday, pressured by an unexpected rise in and fuel inventories while investors took profits after the benchmarks touched seven-year highs earlier in the week.

However, both crude benchmarks were heading for a fifth straight weekly gain, rising over 1% this week. Prices have risen 10% so far this year on concerns over tightening supplies.

futures fell 57 cents, or 0.6%, to $87.81 a barrel by 11:17 a.m. EST (1617 GMT), while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 45 cents, or 0.5%, to $85.10.

Earlier in the week, both Brent and WTI rose to their highest since October 2014.

“The latest pullback is most likely due to a combination of pre-weekend profit-taking and the absence of fresh bullish catalysts,” said PVM analyst Stephen Brennock, noting Thursday’s bearish data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA reported the first U.S. stockbuild since November and gasoline inventories at an 11-month high, against industry expectations.

The EIA also reported a slight decline in refinery runs, indicating lower demand for crude.

However, analysts expect the pressure on prices to be limited owing to supply concerns and rising demand.

OPEC+, which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) with Russia and other producers, is struggling to hit its monthly output increase target of 400,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East are also heightening fears of supply disruption.

Top U.S. and Russian diplomats made no major breakthrough at talks on Ukraine on Friday but agreed to keep talking to try to resolve a crisis that has stoked fears of a military conflict.

UBS expects crude oil demand to reach record highs this year and for Brent to trade in a range of $80-90 a barrel for now.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley (NYSE:) has raised its Brent price forecast to $100 a barrel in the third quarter, up from its previous projection of $90.

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