By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK – Crude prices steadied in choppy trading on Friday, with Brent on track to its largest weekly drop in six months, as strong U.S. jobs data and bargain hunting by investors pitted against seasonally weak consumption of oil.
The oil market initially rose about 1 percent or more early on Friday on strong U.S. jobs data and worries about fresh militant attacks on Nigerian oil infrastructure. But the gains faded after concerns over supplies later returned.
“It’s choppy and will likely stay so,” said David Thompson, executive vice-president at Washington-based commodities broker Powerhouse. “It’ll be a tug of war today between the very strong jobs numbers and the existing bearish oil market fundamentals.”
Brent crude futures were down 8 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $46.32 per barrel by 10:47 a.m. EDT (1447 GMT), after a session high at $47.23.
U.S. crude futures slipped by 11 cents to $45.03 versus a rise earlier to $45.97.
Both crude benchmarks were down nearly 8 percent for the week – the largest weekly slide for Brent since January.
Crude futures have gyrated of late as a glut of refined products and slowing global economic growth contrasted with supply disruptions and expectations that the world’s overhang of oil would soon begin to recede. Both Brent and U.S. crude hit two-month lows on Thursday.