Oil prices up 2 pct, almost 14-month high, after OPEC+ extends output cuts

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Oil prices jumped more than 2 percent on Friday, hitting their highest in nearly 14 months after OPEC and its allies agreed not to increase supply in April as they await a more substantial recovery in demand.

Brent crude futures were up $1.75, or 2.6 percent, at $68.49 a barrel by 1250 GMT and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed $1.49, or 2.3 percent, to $65.32 as both remained on track for weekly gains.

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Both contracts surged more than 4 percent on Thursday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together known as OPEC+, extended oil output curbs into April, granting small exemptions to Russia and Kazakhstan.

“OPEC+ settled for a cautious approach ... opting to increase production by just 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) in April while market participants looked for an increase of 1.5 million bpd,” said UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

Investors were surprised that Saudi Arabia had decided to maintain its voluntary cut of 1 million bpd through April even after the oil price rally of the past two months on the back of COVID-19 vaccination program around the globe.

“No additional supply from OPEC in April means lower oil inventories not only in April but all through 2021 and into 2022 even if supply is added in May,” SEB chief commodity analyst Bjarne Schieldrop said.

“Price over volume is the name of the game for as long as they can.”

Analysts are reviewing their price forecasts to reflect the continued supply restraint by OPEC+ as well as US shale producers, who are holding back spending to boost returns to investors.

Goldman Sachs raised its Brent crude price forecast by $5 to $75 a barrel in the second quarter and $80 a barrel in the third quarter of this year. UBS raised its Brent forecast to $75 a barrel and WTI to $72 in the second half of 2021.

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