Oil rebounds on Saudi assurances Russia will extend supply cuts
By Scott DiSavino
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices closed 1.5 percent higher on Friday, rebounding from five-month lows, following positive U.S. jobs data and assurances by Saudi Arabia that Russia is ready to join OPEC in extending supply cuts to reduce a persistent glut.
The market, however, remained in technically oversold territory with futures trading down as much as 19 percent from highs in mid April, prompting some speculators to exit their long positions.
Brent futures gained 72 cents, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $49.10 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 70 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $46.22 per barrel.
After falling almost 5 percent on Thursday, both contracts continued to collapse overnight with WTI falling to $43.76, its lowest since Nov. 15, and Brent down to $46.64, its lowest since Nov. 30 when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to cut production during the first half of 2017.
Both benchmarks pared losses after Saudi Arabia's OPEC Governor Adeeb Al-Aama told Reuters that OPEC and non-OPEC nations were close to agreeing to extend a deal to curb production by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) for six months from Jan. 1.
"Based on today's data, there's a growing conviction that a six-month extension may be needed to rebalance the market, but the length of the extension is not firm yet," the Saudi official said.
OPEC sources said on Thursday that OPEC is likely to extend cuts when it meets on May 25 but that a deeper cut is unlikely.
In the United States, meanwhile, job growth rebounded sharply in April and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent, near a 10-year low, according to government data. Continued...