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Oil prices on track for 7th straight weekly rise


Oil futures were little changed Friday, but remained on track for a seventh straight weekly rise as traders remained optimistic about vaccine rollouts and prospects for U.S. lawmakers to reach a deal on an economic relief package.

West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery


was unchanged at $48.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. February Brent crude

the global benchmark, fell 10 cents, or 0.2%, to $51.40 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. WTI was on track for a 3.8% weekly rise, while Brent was up 2.9% over the same stretch.

Global risk assets “are heading into year-end in jubilant mood with the optimism of a deal on the U.S. stimulus package as well as recovery hopes on the back of vaccine rollout, and are once again ignoring virus-linked lockdowns,” said Fawad Razaqzada, analyst at ThinkMarkets, in a note.

“There’s hope that the global economy will suddenly kick-start as confidence returns,” he said. “This is why value stocks, crude oil and industrial metals have all rallied in recent weeks and I expect that trend to continue, unless something fundamentally changes or a major risk-off event occurs.”

U.S. congressional leaders continued to negotiate toward a $900 billion package of economic relief that would send checks to households, extend unemployment benefits and provide aid to small businesses. At the same time, a midnight Friday deadline to complete a bill funding government operations loomed, leaving the possibility of a government shutdown in the midst of a worsening pandemic.

Meanwhile, an independent advisory committee on Thursday voted 20-0-1 that the benefits of Moderna Inc.’s 

 COVID-19 vaccine candidate outweigh the risks, a recommendation that sets the stage for a likely Food and U.S. Drug Administration authorization. Inoculations using the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc.

and BioNTech SE

began earlier this week.

Analysts said evidence of strong physical demand continued to underpin the market.

“Although sobering coronavirus case counts in many countries may be tempering optimism among some market participants, this has so far not been enough to knock key physical markets down a notch,” wrote analysts at JBC Energy. “In the North Sea, the physical market has been helped higher as floating storage volumes have begun shifting lower. ”

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