Investing.com - Oil finished higher on Friday, boosted by signs of rising crude demand in China, but prices failed to avoid a weekly loss amid concerns over rising production in the U.S.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for January delivery tacked on 67 cents, or around 1.2%, to end at $57.36 a barrel. It still posted a loss of roughly 1.7% for the week, its largest weekly drop in two months.
Meanwhile, February Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., jumped $1.20, or roughly 1.9%, to settle at $63.40 a barrel by close of trade. For the week, Brent suffered a loss of about 0.6%.
Crude futures were buoyed by data showing China's oil imports rose to 9.01 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, the second highest on record, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Friday. Booming demand will push China ahead of the United States as the world's biggest crude importer this year.
Threats of a strike later this month from a union in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil exporter, was also supportive.
However, fears that rising U.S. output would dampen OPEC’s efforts to rid the market of excess supplies prevented prices from rising much further, according to market participants.
U.S. energy companies added two oil rigs in the week to Dec. 8, bringing the total count up to 751, the highest since September, General Electric (NYSE:GE)'s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday.
Domestic U.S. output has rebounded by almost 15% since the most recent low in mid-2016, and increasing drilling activity for new production means output is expected to grow further, as producers are attracted by climbing prices.
U.S. oil production rose to 9.71 million bpd last week, according to government data released during the week, the highest level since the early 1970s and close to the output of top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with some non-OPEC producers led by Russia, agreed last month to extend current oil output cuts for a further nine months until the end of 2018. The deal to cut oil output by 1.8 million barrels a day (bpd) was adopted last winter by OPEC, Russia and nine other global producers. The agreement was due to end in March 2018, having already been extended once.
In other energy trading, gasoline futures inched up 1.6 cents, or 1%, to end at $1.716 a gallon on Friday, but still saw a weekly loss of about 1.4%.
Heating oil advanced 3.1 cents, or 1.7%, to $1.928 a gallon, cutting its weekly loss to about 0.6%.
Meanwhile, natural gas futures settled at $2.772 per million British thermal units, up 0.3% for the session, but lost around 9.4% on the week.
In the week ahead, market participants will eye fresh weekly information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products on Tuesday and Wednesday to gauge the strength of demand in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Oil traders will also focus on monthly reports from OPEC and the International Energy Agency (IEA) to assess global oil supply and demand levels. The data will give traders a better picture of whether a global rebalancing is taking place in the oil market.
Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of these and other significant events likely to affect the markets.
The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, is to publish its weekly report on U.S. oil supplies.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Counties will publish its monthly assessment of oil markets.
Later on, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is to release weekly data on oil and gasoline stockpiles.
The International Energy Agency will release its monthly report on global oil supply and demand.
The U.S. government will publish a weekly report on natural gas supplies in storage.
Baker Hughes will release weekly data on the U.S. oil rig count.
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