© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pump jacks operate at sunset in an oil field in Midland, Texas US August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
By Shadia Nasralla
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose for a second session on Friday, buoyed by better than expected US economic growth, strong middle distillate refining margins and hopes of a rapid recovery in Chinese demand.
Futures gained $1.17, or 1.34%, to trade at $88.64 a barrel at 1332 GMT. was up $1.17, or 1.44%, at $82.18 and on track for its highest daily jump in percentage terms for two weeks.
Both benchmarks advanced by more than 1% on Thursday and are heading for a third straight week of gains.
OPEC+ delegates meet next week to review crude production levels, with sources from the oil producer group expecting no change to current output policy.
The US Federal Reserve’s next decision on interest rates will be made at a meeting on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 against a backdrop of a dip to inflation and gross domestic product that grew by a faster than expected 2.9% in the fourth quarter.
“The positive batch of data gave oil prices a lift,” said PVM analyst Stephen Brennock.
Gains on US crude were capped by a 4.2 million barrel build in stocks at Cushing, the pricing hub for NYMEX oil futures, this week. [EIA/S]
“We believe soaring middle-distillate prices and cracks are mostly behind crude’s bullish price action,” JPMorgan (NYSE:) said in a note, pointing to heavy refinery maintenance and outages, plus the European ban on Russian refined products from Feb. 5.
In China, critically ill COVID-19 cases are down 72% from a peak earlier this month while daily deaths among COVID-19 patients in hospitals have dropped by 79% from their peak, pointing to a normalization of the Chinese economy and boosting expectations of a recovery in oil demand.