Stock Market

Oil prices advance to cap off bruising March

Oil prices saw modest gains on Friday, capping off a nearly two-week-long advance that has helped to ameliorate bruising losses for the month and quarter during the last session of March.

Price action
  • West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery 



    rose 55 cents , or 0.7%, to $74.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, following a 1.9% gain to $74.37 per barrel on Thursday.

  • May Brent crude 


     , the global benchmark, rose 47 cents, or 0.3%, to $78.97 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. The contract rose 1.3% to $79.27 per barrel on Thursday. Both Brent and WTI on Thursday settled at their highest since March 13, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

  • April gasoline 

    slipped 0.1% to $2.658 per gallon, while April heating oil

    rose 0.8% to $2.6455 a gallon. The April contracts will expire at the end of Friday’s session.

  • May natural gas 

    rose 0.1% to $2.105 per million British thermal units.

Market drivers

U.S. crude prices have rallied more than 7% this week, helped by such factors as supply problems out of Northern Iraq, U.S. dollar weakness, a hefty drop in U.S. crude inventories and improved risk sentiment along with signs of China’s economic recovery, Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, said in a note to clients.

U.S. crude supplies saw a 7.5 million-barrel weekly decline, according to the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday. That was the largest weekly fall year to date.

Hansen also noted that according to a monthly survey published by the Dallas Federal Reserve, shale oil basin executives have said uncertainty over the bank crisis is causing jitters about capital spending plans for 2023. “In addition to access to credit, record costs from a shortage of labor and supply chain issues have led to a slowdown in production growth,” said Hansen.

Still, front-month U.S. crude prices are looking at a 3.4% loss for March and just over 7% for the first quarter as of Thursday, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Brent prices have lost 5.5% for the month and 7.7% for the quarter.

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