Oil prices firm as Libya supply risks mount

Oil prices fell on Friday, with Brent slipping away from the $70 mark after briefly rising above that level in the previous session, hurt by supply concerns and worries about progress in U.S. - China trade talks.

Meanwhile, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures ended lower by 0.03 percent to Dollars 62.08 per barrel, while Brent crude, the worldwide benchmark, fell 0.30 percent to USD 69.19 per barrel.

Worldwide benchmark Brent futures settled up 9 cents at $69.40.

However, lingering concerns about global economy and OPEC-led output cuts and US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela limited oil's decline.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 22 cents to $62.68 a barrel.

"There is a clear bias to the upside with the supply restrictions", said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, pointing to supply cuts by OPEC and others, along with sanctions on Iran.

Crude futures also received a boost from news of a potential slowdown in crude production out of Venezuela, as US sanctions and energy blackouts hit the OPEC nation's oil industry.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday a trade deal with China was getting very close and could be reached in about four weeks, but he said sticking points included tariffs and intellectual property theft.

U.S. -China trade talks made headway last week in Beijing and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Wednesday the sides aim to bridge differences during further talks.

The refinery maintenance season is also drawing to a close and that will provide further demand for crude, said Virendra Chauhan, oil analyst at Energy Aspects in Singapore.

The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report showed that the U.S. crude oil stocks increased by 7.2 million barrels in the week ending March 29 compared to analysts' estimate for a draw of 425K barrels.

Other bearish economic indicators this week included lower German factory orders, which fell in February by the sharpest rate in more than two years.

The EIA also reported an increase in gasoline production, averaging 9.8 million barrels per day, while distillate fuel production dropped last week, averaging 4.9 million barrels per day.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

  • Wendy Palmer