Oil prices held steady Friday ahead of key industry data as markets took a wait-and-see approach on strong Chinese economic momentum.
Major oil indices barely moved early in the Friday session, ending a week of volatility sparked by Saudi crude oil capacity commitments and signs of a mid-2015 slowdown in U.S. oil production.
Brent crude oil prices for May delivery gained about three quarters of a percent early in the trading day to sell for $56.99 per barrel. For the week, Brent gained about 1 percent despite volatility.
West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, was relatively flat at $50.79 for the May contract, up about 1 percent for the week.
China, one of the world’s leading economies and energy consumers, saw a banner day Friday for its Shanghai Composite Index, ending the day above 4,000 points for the first time since 2008. Securities analysts in Beijing said the momentum should continue into next week.
China, whose economic momentum has slowed, is focused on qualitative, rather than quantitative growth. Forecasters expect the No. 2 economy to grow by 7 percent for the year.
Slow and steady growth trajectories for the world economy prompted Saudi officials to say at a Thursday conference in Riyadh global oil demand should continue to rise through the decade.
The sentiment came as federal assessments from the United States indicated a modest slowdown in domestic oil production.
Market watchers early Friday were waiting for a weekly rig count report from oil services company Baker Hughes. Previous reports showed a slowdown in exploration and production activity, with North American operations leading the slump.
April 13, 2015