Oil prices rise as market tightens, but demand concerns linger

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices edged up on Friday, lifted by ongoing supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and by U.S. sanctions on petroleum exporters Iran and Venezuela.

FILE PHOTO: The sun sets behind an oil pump outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Despite strong price increases this year, there are concerns that an economic slowdown could soon dent fuel consumption.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $71.03 per barrel at 0653 GMT, up 20 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.82 per barrel, up 24 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their previous settlement.

“We see Brent and WTI prices averaging $75 per barrel and $67 per barrel respectively through the rest of this year, but risk is asymmetrically skewed to the upside,” RBC Capital Markets said in a note.

“Geopolitically infused rallies could shoot prices toward or even past the $80 per barrel mark for intermittent periods this summer,” the Canadian bank said.

Oil markets have been pushed up by more than a third this year by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), U.S. sanctions on oil