Prices were volatile last week as the grounding of the “Ever Given” container ship in the Suez Canal set off a chain of events that wreaked havoc on global trade. On Tuesday last week, Brent crude’s price plunged to $60.86 per barrel from $69.63 per barrel on March 11th. The price had rebounded to nearly $64 per barrel by Wednesday. The dramatic price fluctuations are attributable to various events, including US oil inventory figures, another round of lockdowns in the EU, AstraZeneca vaccine safety and efficacy concerns, and the vessel stuck in the Suez Canal. On Friday, the markets closed essentially unchanged for the week at $60.97 in New York and $64.57 in London. Prices are up roughly 25% this year, and there’s confidence in the longer-term outlook as vaccination rates climb, and OPEC+ keeps supply in check.
On Thursday, prices suffered their biggest weekly fall since October as signs of flagging demand in key markets halted a strong rally. International benchmark Brent crude ended the week down almost 7%, settling at $64.53 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, fell by a similar margin to $61.42 a barrel. Oil futures are still up well over 20% since the start of the year, with the world’s largest oil producers reining in supply and travel around the world still slow.
Prices settled near $70 a barrel on Friday, supported by production cuts by major oil producers and optimism about a demand recovery in the second half of the year. Benchmark Brent settled at $69.22 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude ended at $65.61 a barrel. Brent and US crude finished the week roughly flat after prices touched a 13-month high on Monday, following seven straight weeks of gains.
Futures rallied to the highest in nearly two years in New York after OPEC+ shocked markets with a decision to keep supply limited as the global economy starts to recover from a pandemic-driven slump. US benchmark crude futures topped $66 a barrel on Friday, while its international counterpart Brent neared the $70 level. Major banks upgraded price forecasts, with some calls for oil reaching north of $100 next year. Crude has soared more than 30% this year, with OPEC+’s output restraint holding the market over until a full-fledged comeback in consumption. The group’s latest decision represents Riyadh’s victory, which has advocated for tight curbs to keep prices supported.
Crude oil futures finished the week sharply lower as a stronger dollar and expectations of rising global supply pulled prices off a 13-month high of over $67 a barrel, seen earlier last week. WTI settled Friday at $61.50 and London at $66.13. US crude futures were up nearly 22% in February with expectations of shrinking supplies and a further rebound in consumption as economies worldwide begin to reopen. However, the market is facing a possible supply increase in April from OPEC+ and variants of Covid-19 continue to spread.