Brent notches sixth week of gains

Brent notches sixth week of gains
Brent has gained about 17.5 per cent since the start of the year.

new york - Prices boosted by plummeting Venezuelan production, strong global demand and looming US sanctions on Iran



Oil prices fell on Friday, but Brent crude marked its sixth straight week of gains, boosted by plummeting Venezuelan production, strong global demand and looming US sanctions on Iran.

Brent crude futures fell 79 cents, or 1 per cent, to settle at $78.51 a barrel. The global benchmark on Thursday broke through $80 a barrel for the first time since November 2014, and investors anticipate more gains due to supply concerns, at least in the short term.

Brent, which has gained about 17.5 per cent since the start of the year, rose about 1.9 per cent last week. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 21 cents to settle at $71.28 a barrel, a 0.29 per cent loss. The contract rose about 0.9 per cent for the week, its third straight week of gains.

"Nothing has changed fundamentally today to really drive that small price movement down," said Nick Holmes, an investment analyst on the energy portfolio team at Tortoise Capital in Leawood, Kansas, adding that some investors were taking profits ahead of the weekend.

Hedge funds and other money managers cut their combined futures and options position in New York and London in the week to May 15 to the lowest level in six months, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Friday. The move was the fourth consecutive cut. The net long position dropped by 15,322 contracts to 419,907 during the period.

On Friday, traders were looking ahead to Venezuela's election on Sunday, which could then trigger additional US sanctions if President Nicolas Maduro is re-elected for a six-year term, though the opposition party has largely boycotted the race and two of his most popular opponents have been banned from running.

Additional sanctions could further hurt Venezuelan oil supply, already reeling from lack of maintenance and state-run PDVSA's inability to pay its bills. - Reuters


More news from Business