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Oil Climbs to FourWeek High on Strong China Data

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Oil prices extended gains on Friday and were on course for a weekly gain of about 7 with an improved oil demand outlook and strong economic recoveries in China and the United States offsetting concerns about spikes in COVID19 infections.

Brent crude futures rose 30 cents, or 0.5, to 67.24 a barrel at 0551 GMT, following a 36 cent rise on Thursday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate WTI crude futures were 28 cents, or 0.4, higher to 63.74 a barrel, after climbing 31 cents on Thursday.

China39;s 2021 net crude oil imports are forecast to grow 3.4 this year versus 2020 to about 11.2 million barrels per day, a unit of top oil and gas group China National Petroleum

China reported a record 18.3 jump in economic growth in the first quarter from a coronavirusinduced slump earlier last year, though the pace of expansion is expected to moderate later in the year.

Strong economic recoveries around the world and supply curbs by OPEC and its allies, together called OPEC, as well as a cautious response to higher prices by U.S. oil producers are supporting the market, said Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk.

We still think there39;s a clear risk prices could rise up to 70 a barrel before we see a more meaningful pull back, Smirk said.

He said the longer prices stay elevated, the more supply is likely to return to the market, and the risks of COVID19 cases spiking in places like India and Europe could eventually drive prices down.

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