Oil prices climbed Friday, recovering slightly from a sell-off caused by news that US stockpiles had reached record highs, adding to worries about a global supply glut. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April, a new contract, gained 35 cents to $52.18 while Brent added 33 cents to $60.54.
Traders sold off the black gold Wednesday on forecasts of a huge jump in inventories. And they extended the losses Thursday after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced a surge of almost eight million barrels to levels not seen since weekly books were started in 1982. But Tony Nunan, risk manager at Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp., said despite inventories being at their highest level on record, and the increase being above anything analysts had expected, “the gain was a lot smaller than the number announced Wednesday by the American Petroleum Institute in its weekly report.
“Traders are watching when the gap between oil production and (demand) will narrow.” Crude prices lost about 60 percent of their value to about $40 between June and late January owing to an oversupply in world markets, a weak global economy and a strong dollar. And while they have been climbing in recent weeks on news that the number of US oil rigs in operation has fallen and energy giants are cutting back on investment, markets-watchers say volatility is likely to continue for some time.