Oil prices struggled for direction on Friday, but held onto a gain for the week, as investors waited to hear more news about a potential nuclear deal with Iran as well as the possibility of production cuts out of Saudi Arabia.
West Texas Intermediate crude
for October delivery rose 12 cents, or 0.1%, to $92.64 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, with prices fluctuating between losses and gains for the session. Front-month contract prices traded more than 2% higher for the week, FactSet data show.
The front-month October Brent crude oil contract
added 5 cents, or nearly 0.1%, to $99.39 per barrel on ICE Futures Europe, trading up by 2.7% for the week.
Back on Nymex, September gasoline
lost 4.7 cents, or 1.7%, to $2.765 per gallon, while September heating oil
gained 3.8 cents, or 1%, to $3.9871 per gallon.
Natural gas for September delivery
climbed 15 cents, or 1.6%, to $9.525 per million British thermal units, with prices trading around 2% higher for the week.
What analysts are saying
Oil prices have risen this week as hopes for a nuclear deal with Iran were offset by comments about potential production cuts out of Saudi Arabia.
The comments from Saudi Arabia’s energy minister suggest international oil benchmarks won’t be allowed to trade below $90 per barrel without at least some verbal intervention from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, according to analysts at Commerzbank.
“Admittedly, sources close to OPEC stressed shortly afterwards that a production cut would probably only happen if Iran were to return to the oil market as a result of a new nuclear agreement. Nonetheless, the impression remains that Saudi Arabia is not willing to tolerate any price slide below $90,” Commerzbank team wrote.
Traders also weighed comments Friday from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at the Jackson Hole economic symposium.
Powell delivered a blunt message that the Fed will keep at the job of bringing inflation down until it is done and that the fight will be costly in terms of jobs and economic growth.
In his speech, he drove home the point that the Fed has an “overarching focus right now to bring inflation back down to our 2% goal.”
Economic data released Friday showed a key gauge of U.S. inflation fell 0.1% in July on the heels of declines in gasoline prices.