Oil prices retreat slightly
LONDON, January 5, 2018 – Crude oil prices retreated on Friday, as investors grew more cautious ahead of the weekend, but the commodity was still close to multi-year highs following positive U.S. inventory data released on Thursday and thanks to ongoing supply cut efforts by global oil producers.
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude February contract was down 43 cents or about 0.65% at $61.58 a barrel by 04:00 a.m. ET (08:00 GMT), just off a a fresh two-and-a-half year high of $62.21 hit on Thursday.
Elsewhere, Brent oil for March delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London declined 29 cents or about 0.43% to $67.80 a barrel, still close to the previous session’s nearly three-year peak of $68.27.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday that crude oil inventories declined by 7.4 million last week, beating expectations for a 5.1 million drop.
Oil prices were already supported in recent session by political tensions in Iran, where protests are marking the biggest challenge to the country’s clerical leadership since 2009. Iran is the world’s third biggest oil producer.
The commodity is also underpinned by production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia. The producers agreed in December to extend current oil output cuts until the end of 2018.
The deal to cut oil output by 1.8 million barrels a day (bpd) was adopted last winter by OPEC, Russia and nine other global producers. The agreement was due to end in March 2018, having already been extended once.
Elsewhere, gasoline futures fell 0.29% at $1.803 a gallon, while natural gas futures lost 3.16% to $2.789 per million British thermal units.