Market players are likely to stay focused on global supplies in the week ahead, after oil prices suffered their second consecutive weekly loss, driven lower by indications of swelling U.S. crude stockpiles. U.S. oil inventories climbed 6.5 million barrels last week, almost triple the amount analysts had forecast, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. It was the fourth straight weekly climb that has seen domestic supplies swell by a total of 22 million barrels over that period.
Meanwhile, the U.S. oil drilling rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose by four to 873 this week, the highest since March 2015, General Electric (NYSE:GE)’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday.
Additionally, oil traders will also keep a watchful eye on simmering geopolitical tensions between OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and the U.S. over the suspected death of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 2. President Donald Trump on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that Khashoggi is likely dead and said there would be “very severe” consequences if it was determined that Saudi rulers were behind it, without specifying what they might entail.
Investors suspect the latest development could undermine the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and has the risk of eventually destabilizing the oil-rich kingdom. Oil prices ended slightly higher on Friday, but remained at an inflection point after a rough week. December West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, rose 57 cents, or roughly 0.8%, on Friday to settle at $69.28 a barrel by close of trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Despite Friday’s gain, it suffered a weekly loss about 3.1%. Meanwhile, the global benchmark, Brent crude for December delivery on the ICE Futures Europe exchange, added 49 cents, or around 0.6%, to end at $79.78 a barrel.
It posted a weekly decline of 0.8%. Not helping the mood were indications that global trade disputes, most notably between the U.S. and China, were curbing economic activity, and, by extension, eroding energy demand. Continued weakness in global equities was also a weight on crude oil earlier in the week. Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of the main events likely to affect the oil market: