Oil little changed after choppy trade, WTI ends at 11-week high

Fri Oct 9, 2015 3:14pm EDT
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By Koustav Samanta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices remained little changed in choppy trade on Friday as traders flip-flopped between the negative fundamentals of persistent oversupply and support cushions from a sixth weekly decline in U.S. oil rig counts.

U.S. crude CLc1 closed up 20 cents at $49.63, the highest settle since late July, while Brent crude LCOc1 ended 40 cents down at $52.65 on Friday.

Despite Friday's decline in Brent, both the North Sea crude and WTI benchmarks gained about 9 percent in the week, the biggest weekly percentage gain in the last six weeks.

U.S. energy firms cut oil rigs for a sixth week in a row this week, the longest streak of weekly declines since June, data released on Friday showed, a sign low prices continued to keep drillers away from the well pad.

Drillers removed nine oil rigs in the week ended Oct. 9, bringing the total rig count down to 605, oil services company Baker Hughes Inc (BHI.N: Quote) said in its closely followed report. However, some oil analysts believe that fall might not be enough to rein in the oil bears.

Jim Ritterbusch, president of Galena, Illinois-based Ritterbusch & Associates, said earlier in the day that he would be looking for a decrease of more than 10-15 rigs in Friday's report in order to keep the short term bull move alive in the oil markets.

Some traders said concerns about falling shale output in Canada, as well as the Bakken region, added support to U.S. crude.

"I think the market is repricing (U.S. crude) higher versus other grades of crude in the Atlantic Basin because of this fear," said Scott Shelton, oil broker and commodities specialist at ICAP in Durham, North Carolina.   Continued...

An offshore oil platform is seen at the Bouri Oil Field off the coast of Libya August 3, 2015.  REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi