28 Jul 2014

Crude oil futures - weekly outlook: July 28 - August 1


                     Brent oil futures rallied to a one-week high on Friday, as investors continued to assess the geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East.

On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for September delivery rose to a daily high of $108.46 a barrel on Friday, the most since July 18, before settling at $108.39 by close of trade, up 1.23%, or $1.32.
The September Brent contract advanced 1.06%, or $1.15, on the week, the second consecutive weekly gain.
Investors continued to closely watch an intensifying geopolitical crisis between Moscow and the West over the situation in Ukraine.
The Pentagon said Friday that Russia has escalated the violence in Ukraine and may be set to provide more sophisticated weapons to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Russia is one of the world's top producers and exporters of oil and gas.
Meanwhile, fighting between Israel and Hamas showed little sign of abating, despite ongoing efforts by the U.S. to reach a ceasefire.
Market participants are worried that a flare up in the conflict could draw in neighboring countries and affect oil supplies.
Elsewhere, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in September fell to a session low of $101.00 a barrel on Friday, the weakest since July 17, before coming off the lows to settle at $102.09, up 0.02%, or 2 cents.
U.S. oil prices were weighed by weekly supply data which showed that total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.4 million barrels last week, above forecasts for a gain of 1.3 million barrels.
The larger than expected increase in gasoline stocks during the summer driving season in the U.S. was bearish for oil prices.
For the week, Nymex oil futures eased up 0.13%, or 14 cents, the second straight weekly gain.
Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers increased their bullish bets in New York-traded oil futures in the week ending July 22.
Net longs totaled 278,116 contracts as of last week, up 6.8% from net longs of 259,259 in the preceding week.
Meanwhile the spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $6.30 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, compared to $5.29 in the preceding week.
In the week ahead, investors will be focusing on Wednesday’s preliminary reading on U.S. second quarter growth, while Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report will also be in focus.
Wednesday’s Fed statement will also be closely watched for any indications that the central bank is moving closer to raising rates.
The Commerce Department on Friday reported a rise of 0.7% in orders of long lasting goods such as machinery and electronic products, compared to forecasts of 0.5%.
The data came a day after the U.S. Department of Labor said that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending July 19 declined by 19,000 to hit an eight-year low of 284,000. - investing.com

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