Oil prices diverge before US payrolls data
World oil prices diverged on Friday amid caution before key payrolls data in top crude consumer the United States, and as Greece reached a debt deal with private creditors to avert bankruptcy.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light sweet crude for delivery in April, added 34 cents to $106.92 a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for April fell 36 cents to $125.08 in London.
“Today, we are seeing some moderate consolidation in crude oil prices, with investors currently digesting last night’s Greek … deal announcement and wary of position taking ahead of key non-farm payrolls data due out later today,” said Sucden brokers analyst Jack Pollard.
“Accordingly, volumes are thin as the Brent/WTI spread narrows slightly, reflecting the muted tone in Europe on the Greek deal whilst WTI’s relative strength is seen supported by the broadly robust tone to recent US data.”
Greece said on Friday that it had clinched a “historic” debt swap, opening the way for an urgent second bailout to save the country from bankruptcy and the eurozone from a new crisis.
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association will determine later on Friday whether the Greek debt cut constitutes a credit event that would trigger the credit default swaps.
The oil market meanwhile remains well supported by ongoing geopolitical worries over major crude producer Iran.
“Besides the still smouldering Iran crisis, the focus today is likely to be on US labour market data,” noted Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.
“Improved income prospects could give rise to hopes of growing demand in the US — the world’s biggest consumer of oil — and thus give additional buoyancy to the oil price.”