By Jessica Resnick-Ault
NEWYORK -Oil traded just below multi-year highs on Friday with bullish sentiment about low supplies tamped by concerns from world leaders that demand disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic may not be over.
Brent crude futures rose 92 cents, or 1.1%, to settle at $85.53 a barrel. The benchmark, which touched a three-year high of $86.10 on Thursday, was up 1% in the week, its seventh weekly gain.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained $1.26, or 1.5%, to settle at $83.76 a barrel, not far off a seven-year high hit this week. The contract gained 1.7% on the week and was up for a ninth straight week.
Prices have been boosted by worries about coal and gas shortages in China, India and Europe, spurring some power generators to switch from gas to fuel oil and diesel.
Winter weather in much of the United States is expected to be warmer than average, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast.
U.S. crude found support this week as investors eyed low crude stocks at the U.S. storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma.
U.S. Energy Information Administration data on Wednesday showed crude stocks at Cushing fell to 31.2 million barrels, their lowest level since October 2018.
“America’s gasoline demand appears to be experiencing an Indian summer,” PVM analysts said in a note, pointing to the highest implied demand for this time of year since 2007 despite high pump prices.
“Supply is still very, very tight, the market is just cautious about the possibility of an uptick in COVID cases in Russia, China and now Germany,” said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Prices pulled back from earlier intraday highs after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the pandemic is not yet over.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he could not rule out another COVID-19 spike this winter.