NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Friday ahead of long U.S. and UK holiday weekends, but were on track for its biggest weekly drop of the year, pressured by rising inventories and concern over an economic slowdown.
FILE PHOTO: An oil pump jack pumps oil in a field near Calgary, Alberta, Canada, July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Todd Korol/File Photo
Brent crude rose 12 cents to $67.88 a barrel by 11:57 a.m. ET (1557 GMT) but the global benchmark remained on course for a weekly decline of about 6%.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was unchanged at$57.91 a barrel. The benchmark was on track for a weekly drop of nearly 8%, the biggest weekly decline since December.
U.S. crude inventories have risen to their highest since July 2017, suggesting ample supplies in the world’s top consumer [EIA/S], with prices also hit by worries that the U.S.-China trade conflict is developing into a more entrenched dispute.
U.S. inventories also rose due to more sluggish refinery rates than normal for this time of year. In particular, refining usage in the Midwest region plunged to its lowest levels in May since 2013.
Stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures were at the highest since December 2017, government data showed this week. [EIA/S]
“U.S. businesses affected by the increased tariffs will be making decisions regarding purchases, inventories, etc., that are apt to force some downshifts in the U.S. economic growth path that could have implications for U.S. oil demand,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said.
“A decline below