Oil steady, on track for biggest weekly gain since July

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Oil prices steadied on Friday, heading for their largest weekly gain since July after US President Donald Trump's comments about possible military action in Syria and reports of dwindling global oil stocks.

Recovering from earlier losses, Brent crude was up 28 cents at $72.30 a barrel by 1301 GMT and set for a weekly gain of almost 8 percent, or about $5.

US crude for May delivery rose 28 cents to $67.35, up more than 8 percent, or about $5, for the week.

“You have to put today's moves in the context of the last three days. There hasn't been any particular change today in terms of geopolitics or fundamental data,” said Harry Tchilinguirian of BNP Paribas.

Both oil benchmarks hit their highest since late 2014 on Wednesday after Trump warned that missiles “will be coming” in response to a suspected gas attack in Syria and after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted missiles over Riyadh.

Trump tweeted on Thursday that an attack on Syria “could be very soon or not so soon at all”, raising the prospect that an attack might not be as imminent as he seemed to suggest the previous day.

“As we start the last day of the week, we feel that the geopolitical risks are not as high as feared three days ago,” Petromatrix said in a note.

“The Syrian escalation risk cannot be fully written off, but we view that it deserves less of a premium than three days ago.”

A global oil stocks surplus is close to evaporating, OPEC said on Thursday, adding that its collective output fell to 31.96 million barrels per day (bpd) in March, down 201,000 bpd from February.

Supply reduction pact

Vienna-based OPEC and its oil producer allies are poised to extend their supply reduction pact into 2019 even as the global glut of crude looks set to be eradicated by September, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo told Reuters.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), which coordinates the energy policies of industrialized nations, signaled on Friday that markets could become too tight if supply remains restrained.

Meanwhile China's March crude oil imports climbed month on month to the second-highest level on record.

In Norway, Eni has shut output at its Arctic Goliat oilfield because of a small at a platform that has capacity of close to 100,000 barrels a day.