Crude oil futures - Weekly outlook: April 29 - May 3

CommoditiesApr 28, 2013 06:55AM ET - New York-traded crude oil futures ended Friday’s session lower, as concerns over a slowdown in demand from the U.S. resurfaced after official data showed that the economy grew less-than-forecast in the first quarter.

The U.S. is the world’s biggest oil consuming country, responsible for almost 22% of global oil demand.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in June shed 0.8% Friday to settle the week at USD92.89 a barrel by close of trade.

Despite Friday’s weak performance, Nymex oil futures rose 5% on the week, the biggest weekly advance since June.

Oil prices came under pressure after the Commerce Department said U.S. gross domestic product expanded by 2.5% in the three months to March, missing expectations for growth of 3.0%.

Nymex oil rallied to a two-week high of USD93.86 a barrel on Thursday, as investors closed out bets prices would move lower following a recent slump in prices.

Oil prices are up nearly 8% since hitting a four-month low of USD85.91 a barrel on April 18.

In the week ahead, oil traders will be focusing on Friday’s data on U.S. nonfarm payrolls, as investors attempt to gauge the strength of the economic recovery.

Oil traders have long been taking cues from the monthly jobs report, the most-closely followed indicator of U.S. employment, because it offers insight into the economic health of the world's biggest crude-oil consumer.  

An improving economy is generally correlated with increased demand for oil and fuel products like gasoline.

Market players will be focusing on Wednesday’s Federal Reserve policy statement, for further hints regarding the future of the central bank’s monetary easing program.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for June delivery declined 0.45% on Friday to settle the week at USD102.95 a barrel.

Despite Friday’s modest decline, the London-traded Brent contract rose 3.4% over the week, while the spread between the Brent and the crude contracts stood at USD10.06 a barrel, close to a 15-month low.

The gap between the contracts fell below USD10 a barrel on Thursday, amid an improving production outlook in the North Sea and indications of declining stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for Nymex oil futures.

Crude oil futures - Weekly outlook: April 29 - May 3

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