Crude Oil Futures Rise on Upbeat US Consumer Sentiment Data
A worker maintains oil pipelines at the Zueitina oil terminal in Zueitina, west of Benghazi, Libya.Reuters

Crude oil futures witnessed mixed trade on 11 April, but logged gains for the week as a whole, as strong consumer sentiment data from the US, the world's leading oil consumer, boosted the outlook for energy demand.

Brent May contract finished 13 cents, or 0.1%, lower at $107.33 a barrel on 11 April.

The European benchmark gained some 0.6% for the week.

US May contract finished 34 cents, or 0.3%, higher at $103.74 a barrel on 11 April.

US crude added 2.6% for the week.

IEA Forecasts

Traders also took in the International Energy Agency's widely tracked monthly report on 11 April.

The Paris-based watchdog has lowered its 2014 outlook for Russian oil demand, by 55,000 barrels a day, to 3.5 million barrels a day. The move follows Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March and subsequent World Bank and International Monetary Fund's downgrades of the nation's growth.

The lower Russian demand forecast will limit the global growth forecast to 1.3 million barrels a day from 1.4 million barrels a day estimated previously. However, that will not alter the global balance much in 2014, senior IEA oil analyst Matt Parry told MarketWatch.

"With the US economy slowly getting back to what is considered healthy, unemployment figures and GDP numbers coupled with heightened confidence give reason for traders to speculate toward an increase in consumption," said Jonathan Citrin, founder and executive chairman at CitrinGroup.

Commerzbank Corporates & Markets said in an 11 April note to clients: "Although oil prices are falling slightly [11 April] morning, they are likely to end the week up overall, lent support by news from the IEA which envisages a need for rising OPEC production in the second half of the year after OPEC supply in March declined by around 900,000 month-on-month to 29.6 million barrels per day. According to the IEA, however, the sharp fall in production is likely to be only temporary and should be corrected again in the coming months.

"According to OPEC, the cartel's production totalled 29.6 million barrels per day in March, thus tallying precisely with the demand estimated for 2014. It predicts that global oil demand will increase this year by 1.14 million barrels per day, though it anticipates even greater growth of non-OPEC supply, especially in the US. The plentiful global supply is offset by increased tightening on the west European distillates market: ARA gasoil stocks have once again fallen sharply this week according to PJK International and at 1.4 million tons have hit their lowest level since June 2008.

"This now puts them more than 40% below the five-year average figure. In our opinion, prices so far do not sufficiently reflect the tightness of supply. To date, the gasoil-Brent crack spread has responded hardly at all to the low stock levels - at $14 per barrel at present it is not even half as high as it was in June 2008. We therefore see potential for gasoil prices to climb, and for Brent to be pulled up with them," the German firm added.