Crude oil prices saw an upward trend on Friday, partly driven by the partial relaxation of Russia’s fuel export restrictions, but concerns about macroeconomic challenges continued to weigh on demand sentiment.

Brent crude futures gained 51 cents, reaching $84.58 per barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures increased by 48 cents, settling at $82.79 per barrel.

Despite this increase, Brent experienced an overall decline of about 11 percent for the week, and WTI recorded a drop of over 8 percent. These losses stemmed from apprehensions that persistently high interest rates might hinder global economic growth and reduce fuel consumption, despite supply constraints resulting from production cuts by Saudi Arabia and Russia, both of which have committed to continuing their supply reductions through the end of the year.

Russia’s announcement that it had partially lifted the ban on diesel exports, specifically for shipments delivered to ports via pipelines, contributed to the upward pressure on oil prices. However, the restrictions on petrol exports from Russia remained in place.

Diesel represents Russia’s largest oil product export, accounting for approximately 35 million tonnes in the previous year, with nearly three-quarters of this volume transported via pipelines. Russia also exported 4.8 million tonnes of petrol in 2022.

The Russian government stipulated that companies must still allocate at least 50 percent of their diesel production to the domestic market.

Oil prices received additional support from the news of a significant increase in job growth in the United States, with the Labor Department reporting a rise of 336,000 jobs in September. This development had mixed implications for oil prices, as it signified a robust US economy that could potentially bolster near-term oil demand.

However, analysts noted that the job market expansion led to a stronger US Dollar and increased expectations of another interest rate hike in 2023. The US Federal Reserve began raising interest rates in 2022 to moderate demand, and there are indications that monetary policy could remain tight for an extended period.

A stronger US Dollar typically exerts downward pressure on oil demand, as it makes the commodity relatively more expensive for holders of other currencies. The US Dollar continued to hover near 11-month highs.

Support for oil prices also came from data out of China, where travel during the mid-autumn and National Day holidays surged by 71.3 percent year-on-year and 4.1 percent compared to 2019, reaching 826 million trips.

In a glimpse of future US supply, the number of active oil rigs fell by five to 497 during the week, marking their lowest count since February 2022, according to energy services provider Baker Hughes.

A ministerial panel composed of members from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, led by Russia (OPEC+), made no alterations to the group’s oil production policy during the week. Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its commitment to voluntary output reductions of 1 million barrels per day until the end of 2023, while Russia pledged to maintain a voluntary export curb of 300,000 barrels per day until the end of December.

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