Oil Futures End Mixed Friday

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures settled mixed Friday afternoon after a volatile session, with crude gaining on both a daily basis and weekly basis as a raft of upbeat data from China and the United States bolstered the prospect of an increase in oil demand.

NYMEX August West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures rose 27 cents to a $45.95 per barrel (bbl) settlement, off a two-day high of $46.31 while gaining 54 cents for the week.

NYMEX August ULSD futures eased 0.90 cents to a $1.3974 gallon settlement, off a two-day high of $1.4283 and down 1.49 cents for the week. August RBOB futures nudged up 0.80 cent to a $1.4220 gallon settlement, off a three-day high of $1.4425 while climbing 5.12 cents for the week.

On the IntercontinentalExchange, spot-month Brent crude futures contract was supported by an announcement of a force majeure by Exxon Mobil Corp. on the company's Qua Iboe crude exports. The company said a system anomaly was seen during a routine check of its loading facility, suggesting sabotage by local militants who have been attacking facilities in recent months.

As a result, September Brent on the IntercontinentalExchange gained 24 cents to a $47.61 bbl settlement and posted an 86-cent gain for the week.

On Wall Street, the three main U.S. equity indices eased this afternoon while the U.S. dollar turned higher after shaking off initial weakness and posting a four-day high.

The oil futures complex was supported earlier by economic optimism following data suggesting the world's two biggest economies were doing well during the second quarter, recovering from struggles seen in the first quarter.

During overnight trade, Chinese officials released data showing their economy grew at a slightly better-than-expected rate of 6.7% in Q2 as Beijing stepped up spending.

The earlier this morning, Commerce Department said retail sales rose by a more-than-expected 0.6% in June after a 0.2% downward revision for May on a surge in spending. The department also said consumer price index rose 0.2% in June, with core CPI up 2.3% year-over-year, signaling inflation is picking up gradually.

In midsession, the University of Michigan's July preliminary consumer sentiment index fell to a three-month low of 89.5, reflecting the impact on investor confidence following the June 23 decision by Britain to quit the European Union.

However, analysts noted the fear felt in the immediate aftermath of that referendum has since eased, as the impact of Brexit has been priced in and any economic fallout will be limited after following a return to normalcy in that country, and the prospect of stimulus next month both in the United Kingdom and in in Japan.

Taken together, Friday's data helped to reinforce views U.S. economic growth picked up without signs of impact from overseas problems. The New York Federal Reserve estimated growth will post moderate gains this year, with third quarter likely to grow at a 2.6% rate.

On the fundamentals, Baker Hughes Inc. reported an increase in the number of active oil rigs in the United States by six to 357 for the week-ended Friday, the sixth increase in the past seven weeks.

George Orwel can be reached at george.orwel@dtn.com