Oil prices hover near 8-week highs on lower USA stocks

West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil

Oil prices edged lower on Friday but were still near eight-week highs, buoyed by a decline in US inventories and OPEC's ongoing efforts to curb production.

Saudi Arabia's vow on Monday to cut exports in August helped kicked off the rally, while a sharp drop in US crude and fuel stockpiles kept the rebound going.

Brent crude futures were up 86 cents at $52.35 a barrel at 11:35 a.m. EDT (1535 GMT) after reaching a two-month high of $52.68 a barrel.

But analysts say oil prices may have little room to head higher as recent gains could encourage more output, particularly from us shale producers with low costs. Physical markets have firmed due in large part to very strong refining margins.

Both Brent and WTI contracts are set to post their biggest weekly percentage gains this year with a rise of more than 8 percent.




U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures were down 13 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $48.62 a barrel.

ClipperData LLC, the global leader in real-time tracking of crude oil and petroleum product flows, today announced a no-cost trial of its Global Crude Oil Report to help serious market participants assess crude oil supplies at what could turn out to be a turning point for the oil market.

The US Energy Information Administration reported that the oil reserves in the United States decreased in 7.2 million barrels last week, exceeding the prediction of a 2.6-million-barrel decrease. Gasoline stocks fell by 1 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations for a 614,000-barrel drop.

But despite the move to the top of crude's recent trading range, Essner and other analysts expect prices to remain stuck between $42 and $55 a barrel. As a result of the previous working week, the number of drilling rigs in the USA fell by 2, or 0.21 percent, to 950 units.

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