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Oil prices gain after IEA says market tight

Oil prices reached seven-year highs last month, bolstered by tight worldwide supply

Oil prices rose on Friday after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said oil markets were tight, but were still heading for weekly losses on inflation worries and U.S.-Iran which could boost global supplies.

Brent crude futures rose 39 cents, or 0.4%, to $91.80 a barrel at 1015 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 45 cents, or 0.5%, to $90.33 a barrel.

Prices are on track for their first weekly decline after seven consecutive weekly gains, however.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could help to calm volatile oil markets if they pumped more crude, the IEA said on Friday, adding that the OPEC+ alliance produced 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) below target in January.

The two OPEC+ producers have the most spare production capacity and could help to relieve dwindling global oil inventories that have been among factors pushing prices towards $100 a barrel, deepening inflation worldwide.

This comes after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said that world oil demand might rise even more steeply this year amid a strong post-pandemic economic recovery.

The prospect of an aggressive U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hike and ongoing talks between the United States and Iran on the latter’s nuclear programme capped further gains in prices, however.

“Yesterday’s inflation number likely puts more pressure on the U.S. Fed to act more aggressively with rate hikes. This expectation is weighing on oil and the broader commodities complex somewhat,” said Warren Patterson, ING’s head of commodities research.

St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard had said he wanted a full percentage point of interest rate hikes by July 1, following the release of U.S. inflation data that saw its biggest annual increase in 40 years.

Indirect talks between the United States and Iran to revive a nuclear deal, resumed this week after a 10-day break. A deal could see the lifting of sanctions on Iranian oil and ease global supply tightness.

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