Oil heads for weekly loss on economic uncertainty

 Oil prices were on track for a hefty weekly loss as economic and interest rate uncertainty weighed, though prices were stable on Friday as the euro zone recovery gathered pace unexpectedly.

Brent futures for June delivery edged down by 4 cents, or 0.05%, to $81.06 a barrel at 0932 GMT. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) for June delivery was down 1 cent, or 0.01%, at $77.36.

Both benchmarks had slid by more than 2% on Thursday to their lowest since late March and remain on track for a weekly drop of about 6%.

Losses in early trading on Friday stabilised after news that the euro zone economic recovery gathered pace this month.

Demand rose in the bloc’s dominant services sector, more than offsetting a deepening downturn in manufacturing, surveys showed.

Economic uncertainty remains at the forefront of the oil market.

Data released on Thursday showed U.S. weekly jobless claims rose last week, raising fears of a recession and of lower fuel demand from world’s biggest oil consumer.

The U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank are all expected to raise interest rates when they meet in the first week of May, seeking to tackle stubbornly high inflation.

However, oil prices could be supported by draws from inventories from next month owing to producer group OPEC’s reduced output targets and accelerating Chinese demand, PVM’s Brennock said.

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