Crude Oil Slips as Jobs Shock Casts Doubt on U.S. Demand By

© Reuters.

By Geoffrey Smith — Crude oil prices slipped on Friday but were still on course to record another weekly gain, despite fresh concerns about the trajectory of U.S. consumption.

By 11:15 AM ET (1515 GMT), futures were down less than 0.1% at $64.69 a barrel, while futures, the global benchmark, was unchanged at $68.11 a barrel.

U.S. gasoline RBOB futures lost most of their overnight gains but were still up 0.2% at $2.1115 a gallon.

Oil had turned down earlier along with other risk assets after the U.S. posted a for April, with only 266,000 jobs created instead of the 978,000 expected. The data were at odds with many other indicators from the economy over recent days and weeks, but nonetheless started analysts fretting that the broader U.S. economic recovery could turn out to be less vigorous than assumed until recently.

The data certainly didn’t tally with more oil-specific numbers out of the U.S. in the last week, where airports processed a new post-pandemic high in passenger numbers last weekend, and both the American Petroleum Institute and the government reported a drop of some 7 million barrels in .

Both oil and equities recouped some of their losses later, on perceptions that the numbers will only strengthen the hands of those arguing for loose fiscal and monetary policy for the time being. That policy mix is supportive for oil not just because it stimulates the U.S. economy, but because it is likely to keep the dollar cheap, making it easier for emerging nations to keep buying.

Elsewhere Friday, Argus Media became the latest agency to report another increase in Iranian oil production in April, propelling it above Kuwait to become the fourth-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Argus estimates that Iran is now exporting at least 650,000 barrels a day, and officials suggest this could rise to 2.5 million b/d if the U.S. and its European allies agree to restore the UN-backed agreement on limiting its nuclear activities.

A different note was struck in the U.S., however, where there were signs that U.S. shale production is unlikely to rebound quickly in response to this year’s price recovery. EOG Resources (NYSE:), one of the country’s largest shale producers, said it doesn’t plan to raise output until the market needs the barrels and there is low spare capacity. With Iran still ramping up and the rest of OPEC and Russia still keeping millions of barrels of production idled, those conditions seem unlikely to be met in the near term.

Despite that, the number of active oil rigs counted by across North America has risen steadily in recent weeks. The company’s latest weekly update is due at 1 PM ET, as usual, while the will release its weekly commitments of traders report at 3:30 PM ET.


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