Oil Near $71 After Sell-Off as Traders Weigh Consumption, Dollar



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(Bloomberg) — Oil held near $71 a barrel after the biggest drop in four weeks as traders weighed prospects for a stronger dollar against rising demand.

West Texas Intermediate was 0.1% lower in early Asian trade after losing 1.5% on Thursday amid a broad commodities sell-off. The losses in raw materials followed the Federal Reserve’s midweek signal it will in time end the ultra-easy policy brought in to rescue the U.S. economy from the pandemic. That aided the dollar, hurting the appeal of commodities priced in the currency.

Despite the retreat, the benchmark remains on course for a fourth, successive weekly advance on signs of robust consumption and falling stockpiles. With the roll-out of vaccines boosting mobility, especially in the U.S., Europe and China, that would be the longest run of weekly gains this year.

Oil has rallied in 2021 on surging demand coupled with still-restrained supply from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies. That combination has tightened the global market at a rapid clip, prompting traders and banks including Citigroup Inc (NYSE:). to forecast further gains in the second half.

Investors are also tracking the situation in Iran. Talks between Tehran and world powers to revive a nuclear accord and potentially allow a resumption of official crude flows have yet to bridge remaining differences. Citizens in the Islamic Republic vote Friday in a presidential election to pick a replacement for Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who helped shepherd the original 2015 deal.

In a sign of the market’s underlying tightness, pricing patterns remain bullish, with near-term contracts trading well above those further out. Brent’s prompt time spread was 82 cents a barrel in backwardation after narrowing by just 1 cent on Thursday. That compares with 58 cents a week ago.

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