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Crude moves slightly lower amid U.S. rig decrease, Iraqi export surge

Commodities May 01, 2015 02:53PM ET
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WTI nearly reached $60 a barrel on Friday, while brent stayed above $66
 
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Investing.com -- Crude futures ticked lower on Friday, as traders digested the surge in export levels in Iraq along with the latest U.S. rig decline.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for June delivery fell 0.46 or 0.77% to 59.17 a barrel. U.S. crude futures reached a session-high of $59.88 nearing a closely-watched technical level of $60 for the first time since December, before slightly leveling off.

On the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), brent for June delivery ticked down 0.33 or 0.49% to 66.45 a barrel. The spread between the U.S. domestic and international benchmarks of crude stood at $7.28, slightly above Thursday's level of 7.16. For the week, the spread fell more than a dollar from 8.31 at Monday's start of trading.

Both benchmarks surged by more than 15% for the month of April, underscoring easing concerns of oversupply as production levels declined.

Oil services firm Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) said on Friday in a weekly report that oil rigs nationwide fell by 24 last week to 679, the lowest total since September, 2010. It marked the 21st consecutive week of lowering rig counts in the U.S. Crude futures were relatively unchanged following the release. The pace of slowdown, however, continued to decrease. Drillers have been closing low-performing rigs at a high rate following November's energy crash in an effort to manage their equipment more efficiently.

Elsewhere, traders continued to react to a Reuters survey published on Thursday which indicated that OPEC's supply levels swelled to 31.04 million barrels per day in April, its highest level in two years. Export levels in Iraq jumped to a record-high of 3.08 million bpd, up from 2.98 million a month earlier.

In Saudi Arabia, oil giant Aramco named Armin Nasser interim CEO, following the appointment of Khalid Al-Falih as the chairman of the nation's state oil firm and health ministry. Earlier in the week, Saudi Arabia's Supreme Economic Council agreed to restructure Aramco, separating it from the government's oil ministry. In September, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that Saudi Arabia had the world's largest crude oil reserves, accounting for approximately 16% of the total amount worldwide. In 2013, in its last public estimate, Aramco said its crude production averaged roughly 9.4 million bpd.

The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the strength of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, gained 0.55 or 0.58% to 95.42.

Crude moves slightly lower amid U.S. rig decrease, Iraqi export surge
 

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