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INVESTING

Oil ticks up as U.S. inflation cools, but prices set for monthly drop

By Shadia Nasralla

LONDON (Reuters) -Oil prices ticked up on Friday with U.S. inflation data showing some signs of slowing price rises, but on the month oil was on course for its weakest performance since November.

Brent futures, which have risen nearly 6% this week, were up 22 cents or 0.3% at $79.49 a barrel by 1309 GMT. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) U.S. crude was up 45 cents or 0.6% to $74.82, having gained about 8% so far this week.

But the contracts were set for 5% and 3% monthly drops respectively after hitting their lowest since 2021 earlier in the month in the wake of large bank failures.

Oil prices have broadly recouped these losses as worries about a global banking crisis have abated after banks in the U.S. and Europe were rescued.

The U.S. Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) index, which is the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, rose 0.3% in February on a monthly basis, compared with a 0.6% rise in January and an expectation of a 0.4% rise in a Reuters poll.

On an annual basis the gauge stood at 4.6%, below an expected 4.7%. While the inflation data showed signs of cooling, it remained elevated, which could lead to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates one more time this year.

Oil prices were buoyed after producers shut in or reduced output at several oilfields in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq following a halt to the northern export pipeline.

Also sending a bullish signal was data showing U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell to a two-year low. [EIA/S]

Prices have also found support from a rise in China’s manufacturing activity in March.

With oil prices recovering from recent lows, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia are likely to stick to their existing output deal at a meeting on Monday, sources said.

OPEC pumped 28.90 million barrels per day (bpd) this month, a Reuters survey found, down 70,000 bpd from February. Output is down more than 700,000 bpd from September.

(Additional reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan and Andrew Hayley; Editing by Mark Potter, Jason Neely and Jan Harvey)

 

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