February 1, 2019 / 5:00 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 9-Oil prices up on strong U.S. jobs data, Venezuela sanctions

* U.S. jobs data feeds hopes for fuel demand

* OPEC+ supply cuts aim to balance market

* U.S. sanctions against Venezuela hit crude exports

* Trump hails trade talk progress but hints at delay

* U.S. oil drillers cut rigs for 4th week in 5 -Baker Hughes (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comments; adds rig count data)

By Devika Krishna Kumar

NEW YORK, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Oil prices rose about 3 percent on Friday, rising on upbeat U.S. jobs data and signs that U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan exports have helped tighten supply, then extending gains after weekly data showed U.S. drillers cut the number of oil rigs.

Brent crude oil futures rose $1.97 a barrel, or 3.2 percent, to $62.81 a barrel by 1:16 p.m. EST (1816 GMT). The international benchmark was on track for a weekly gain of about 2 percent.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $55.39, up $1.60 a barrel or 3 percent. WTI was headed for a weekly gain of about 3.1 percent.

Prices climbed to session highs after General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm reported that U.S. energy firms cut the number of oil rigs operating for a fourth week in the past five. Last week’s data showed the rig count in January fell the most in a month since April 2016.

Oil prices got a boost from Wall Street after surprisingly strong U.S. job growth data fed demand for equities.

Washington imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s Petróleos de Venezuela SA this week, keeping tankers stuck at ports. On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department provided details.

“We are beginning to see the impact to crude supplies from the sanctions on Venezuela. It has driven up domestic crude prices, cutting into refiner margins,” Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, said.

“That, combined with Saudi cuts and Libyan production declines has changed market sentiment as we appear to be moving towards a better balanced supply situation.”

Some U.S. refiners have begun reducing crude processing as sanctions have boosted oil costs and as gasoline margins crashed to their lowest in nearly a decade, market sources told Reuters on Thursday.

In January, Saudi Arabia pumped 350,000 bpd less than in December, a Reuters survey showed.

Financial markets also gained support from comments on Twitter by U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday, saying he would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping soon to try to resolve a trade standoff. But Trump later warned he could postpone talks if a deal remains elusive. [nL3N1ZV6YD

China’s trade delegation said the latest round of talks with the United States made “important progress”, state news agency Xinhua reported.

“Many traders recognise that sense is likely to prevail and a deal will be struck after the summit - although the shape of any deal will continue to drive a jittery market,” Cantor Fitzgerald Europe said in a note.

But a survey showed China’s factory activity shrank by the most in almost three years in January, reinforcing fears about fuel demand in the world’s second-largest economy.

Analysts believe the oil market will be more balanced in 2019 after supply cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). (Additional reporting by Noah Browning in London, Henning Gloystein in Singapore and Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by Dale Hudson and David Gregorio)

Nuestros Estándares:Los principios Thomson Reuters
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