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  • Gloomy economic outlook weighs on crude oil prices.
  • The U.S. – China trade conflict hurts market sentiment.
  • The number of active oil rigs in the U.S. increases to 854.

Crude oil stayed under pressure throughout the week as investors started to price the potential negative impact of the global economic slowdown on the oil demand outlook. After testing the $52 handle on Thursday and also earlier today, the barrel of West Texas Intermediate erased a very small part of this week’s losses and was last seen trading at $52.70, where it was up 0.2% on a daily basis.

Earlier this week, both the European Commission and the BoE slashed their 2019 growth expectations citing geopolitical factors such as the ongoing trade conflict between the U.S. and China and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Moreover, reports of President Trump not planning to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi before the March 1 deadline further weighed on the sentiment and forced crude oil to extend its slide.

Meanwhile, the latest data published by General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services showed that the total number of active oil rigs in the U.S. increased to 854 this week from 847.

Assessing crude oil’s recent price action, “The oil demand side of the coin is facing a number of headwinds … Venezuela’s oil woes are largely priced in and there is no guarantee that the OPEC+ supply pact will be extended,” PVM analysts told Reuters.

“This is hardly a recipe for a sustained bout of upward buying pressures. There is, however, one potential lifeline for those of a bullish disposition. The rumour mill is in full swing that the Trump administration will not renew waivers to sanctions against buying Iranian oil.”

Technical outlook

Oil Technical Analysis: WTI ending the week hugging $53.00 a barrel.