By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Friday, but were set for a third straight weekly gain after the easing of U.S.-China trade tensions, which has boosted business confidence and the outlook for global economic growth.
Progress in the trade dispute between the world’s two biggest oil consumers has raised expectations of higher energy demand next year.
China on Thursday announced a list of import tariff exemptions for six oil and chemical products from the United States, days after Washington and Beijing said an interim trade deal is set to be signed in January.
Most major economies have likely averted recession for now but growth will remain subdued in 2020, Reuters polls forecast.
“The energy sector as a whole looks set to end 2019 with a solid year-on-year gain. This is due solely to the oil market,” Barbara Lambrecht, an analyst at Commerzbank, said.
Brent is 23% more expensive than it was at the start of the year. Oil prices fell almost 20% in 2018.
UBS lifted its oil price forecast for 2020 but also expects the oil market to be oversupplied by 0.3 million barrels per day next year.
“Our end-of-quarter Brent price forecasts are $60 per barrel for 1Q20 and $62 per barrel, $64 per barrel, and $64 per barrel for the following three quarters,” UBS analysts Giovanni Staunovo and Dominic Schnider said in a note.
UBS’s previous forecast for the four quarters of 2020 were $58, $55, $58, $60 per barrel respectively.
U.S. economic growth nudged up in the third quarter, the government confirmed on Friday, and there are signs the U.S. economy more or less maintained the moderate pace of expansion as the year ended, supported by a strong labor market.
The end of 2019 offered much noise but little direction and prices were treading water on average, Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke said. “Looking forward into 2020, commodities as an asset class should continue to trade range-bound for most of the year.”
A U.S. weekly drilling report by energy services firm Baker Hughes
Meanwhile, oil sector workers in France could decide on Friday whether to halt production at refineries to scale up a protest.
(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, additional reporting by Jane Chung in Seoul; editing by Susan Fenton/Alexander Smith/Jane Merriman)