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James Hyerczyk
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WTI and Brent Crude Oil

U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil futures edged higher on Friday, clawing back some of the week’s losses. The markets were primarily supported by bullish economic data from the United States and Europe, but a rise in coronavirus cases in India continued to raise concerns over demand destruction, capping gains. A dip in the number of oil rigs operating in the U.S. may have provided some additional support.

On Friday, June WTI crude oil futures settled at $62.14, up $0.71 or +1.16% and June Brent crude oil finished at $66.11, up $0.71 or 1.07%.

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Strong Economic Data Out of US and Europe

The price action on Friday suggested that traders downplayed the COVID outbreak in India as U.S. and Euro Zone factory output exceeded expectations.

Markit’s preliminary U.S. manufacturing purchasing manager’s index for April came in at 60.6, slightly ahead of estimates from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The composite came in at 62.2. The readings for manufacturing, services and the composite index were all at a record high for Markit’s flash series.

The Euro Zone’s recovery from its pandemic-induced economic downturn was much stronger than expected in April as the service industry adapted to lockdowns and made a surprise return to growth, a survey showed.

IHS Markit’s flash Composite Purchasing Manager’s Index, seen as a good guide to economic health, rose to a nine month high of 53.7 from March’s 53.2, confounding expectations in a Reuters poll for a dip to 52.8. Anything above 50 indicates growth.

Both sets of data indicate a strengthening global economy that will be needed to offset the potential loss of demand from India. The jump in the numbers out of Europe was particularly encouraging.

With Europe facing a fresh wave of coronavirus infections governments have reimposed strict curbs to contain the spread, forcing some businesses to close and encouraging citizens to stay home.

That meant the economy was expected to recover at a much weaker rate this quarter than had been expected only a month previously, according to a Reuters poll the prior week.

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US Oil Rig Count Falls for First Week Since March – Baker Hughes

U.S. energy firms cut the number of oil rigs operating for the first time since March even though higher oil prices in recent months have prompted some drillers to return to the wellpad.

U.S. oil rigs fell one to 343 in the week to April 23, while gas rigs remained unchanged at 94, according to data on Friday from energy services firm Baker Hughes Co.

The U.S. oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, fell by one to 438 this week. Before this week, drillers added rigs for five weeks in a row. This puts the combined rig count up 80% since falling to a record low of 244 in August 2020, according to Baker Hughes data going back to 1940. The total count, however, is still 27 rigs, or 6%, below this time last year.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.
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