Oil rises to 11-month high, logs weekly gain on Saudi output cut
By Laila Kearney NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices hit their highest level in nearly a year on Friday, gaining 8% on the week, supported by Saudi Arabia's pledge to cut output and strong gains in major equity markets. Brent crude settled at $55.99 a barrel, climbing $1.61, or 3%, on the day and 8.1% on the week. West Texas Intermediate crude futures (WTI) closed at $52.24 a barrel, gaining $1.41, or 2.8%, also its highest since late February
By Laila Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices hit their highest level in nearly a year on Friday, gaining 8% on the week, supported by Saudi Arabia's pledge to cut output and strong gains in major equity markets.
Brent crude settled at $55.99 a barrel, climbing $1.61, or 3%, on the day and 8.1% on the week. West Texas Intermediate crude futures (WTI) closed at $52.24 a barrel, gaining $1.41, or 2.8%, also its highest since late February. WTI posted a weekly gain of 7.7%.
Saudi Arabia this week pledged extra, voluntary oil output cuts of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March as part of a deal under which most OPEC+ producers will hold production steady during new lockdowns.
The kingdom, the de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, was at odds with some other producers that wanted to boost output to head off U.S. shale companies from capturing more market share. Eventually, an agreement was reached to allow Russia and others to boost output while the Saudis restrict theirs.
"This week the Saudis stepped up to try to take over the market and took ownership of getting prices stabilized," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. "It seems like they're on a mission again to get prices back up."
The number of U.S. oil rigs rose for the seventh straight week, gaining eight to 275 this week to its highest since May, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes Co.
Analysts said oil prices could see a correction in the coming months if fuel demand remains constrained by the pandemic. Strict restrictions on travel and other activity around the world to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases are weighing on fuel sales, weakening the prospect of an energy demand recovery in the first half of 2021.
The pandemic claimed its highest U.S. death toll yet this week, killing more than 4,000 people in a single day, while China reported its biggest rise in daily cases in more than five months, while Japan may extend a state of emergency beyond the greater Tokyo region.
A global equities rally pushed Japan's Nikkei and U.S. stock benchmarks to new records, as investors focused on further stimulus to mend the economic damage of the pandemic.
The U.S. Congress may soon approve more pandemic relief, a scenario that became more likely after two Georgia Democrats won Senate seats that handed Democrats control of both houses of Congress once Biden is sworn in.
"The energy complex (is) placing particular focus on the democratic victories in the Georgia elections that, in turn, boost the likelihood of larger stimulus measures," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates.
(Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo; Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.