U.S. OIL PRICES RISE
NEW YORK—U.S. oil futures gained Friday on expectations of continued high demand, while global benchmark Brent held flat, bringing the price gap between the two contracts to the lowest point since July.
Light, sweet crude oil futures for November delivery settled up $1.01, or 1.1%, at $93.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices gained 2.1% for the week.
The global Brent contract settled unchanged at $97 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange, posting a 1.4% loss for the week.
The U.S. contract, West Texas Intermediate, outperformed Brent this week as domestic stockpiles unexpectedly fell amid continued high refinery utilization. Brent remained under pressure on concerns about ample global supplies.
WTI prices are likely to hold between $90 and $95 a barrel heading into October because of high refinery run rates and low inventories at the Nymex physical delivery point in Oklahoma, said Jim Ritterbusch , president of energy-advisory firm Ritterbusch & Associates in a note.
"Meanwhile," he said, "the Brent market continues to bear the brunt of a slowing in growth rates of major economic regions."
The price gap between the two contracts settled at $3.46 a barrel.
The Commerce Department said Friday that U.S. gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 4.6% in the second quarter, above its previous estimate of 4.2%.
"You have crude and the stock market really focusing on the growth in the U.S. right now," said Carl Larry, analyst at Oil Outlooks & Opinions.
Gasoline futures sold off Friday after rallying Thursday on concerns about a short-term supply shortage on the East Coast.
The gasoline "crack spread," a rough indication of how much profit a refinery can make from processing WTI into gasoline, fell to the lowest level since November 2013.
"Gasoline margins are getting worse, and that's not great for forward-looking crude fundamentals," said Anthony Lerner, senior vice president of industrial commodities at brokerage R.J. O'Brien in New York.
October gasoline futures fell 5.61 cents, or 2.1%, to $2.6619 a gallon. Prices rose 1.9% this week.
October diesel rose 0.47 cent, or 0.2%, to $2.7005 a gallon. Futures fell 0.6% this week.
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