LONDON (Reuters) — Oil prices inched higher on Friday, with Brent holding near $70 a barrel as strong U.S. economic data and expectations of a rebound in global demand outweighed concerns about more supply from Iran once sanctions are lifted.
Brent was up 33 cents, or 0.5%, at $69.79 a barrel by 1333 GMT, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 44 cents, or 0.7%, to $67.29 a barrel.
“Boosted by good economic data and risk appetite among investors on the financial markets, Brent is making a renewed bid for the psychologically important $70 per barrel mark,” said Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg.
“Concerns about demand because of the pandemic are giving way to optimism in view of the rapid return of consumers,” he added.
Brent and WTI are both on track to post weekly gains of 5% and 6%, respectively.
Analysts expect global oil demand to rebound closer to 100 million barrels per day in the third quarter on summer travel in Europe and the United States following widespread COVID-19 vaccination programs.
“Gasoline demand has now exceeded 2019 levels in many areas,” ANZ analysts said in a note.
More than 34 million Americans are expected to take to the highways between May 27 and May 31, the holiday weekend which marks the start of the summer driving season. But they face gasoline prices at about $3.04 a gallon on average, the most expensive since 2014.