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  • Oil rig count in the U.S. fell to 863.
  • ARAMCO announces output boost to counter lower supply from Iran.

After spending the last three days consolidating in a relatively tight range, crude oil prices gained traction on Friday and the barrel of West Texas Intermediate rose to its highest level since July 11 at $73.70. The weekly report published by Baker Hughes energy services revealed that the total number of active oil rigs in the United States declined to 863 to provide a late boost to the WTI.

“For the third quarter, the increase of five oil rigs was the smallest since drillers cut three rigs in the fourth quarter of 2017. They added 50 rigs in the first quarter and 61 rigs in the second quarter of 2018,” Reuters noted.

Earlier in the day,  Saudi’s oil giant, ARAMCO, announce that it would boost its oil output by 600K barrels per day to make up for the negative impact of the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s supply. Although this news dragged the barrel of WTI below the $72 mark earlier in the day, it didn’t take for crude oil to reverse its course as investors are looking to reposition themselves  in the last day of the quarter ahead of November 4, on which U.S. sanctions against Iran go into effect.

“The market is coming to grips with the fact that the Iranian sanctions are not that far away. It’s going to tighten the market,” Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, told Reuters on Friday.

Technical levels to consider

The initial resistance for the WTI aligns at $74.25 (Jul. 11 high) ahead of $75.25 (2018 high) and $76 (psychological level). On the downside, supports could be seen at $72 (psychological level/daily low), $70.80 (Sep. 24 low) and $70 (20-DMA).