Oil prices set for third week of gains

Oil prices are headed for a third week of gains.

International benchmark Brent crude was up as much as 0.8% on Friday (November 20) afternoon.

That left it comfortably above 44 dollars per barrel.

Both it and U.S. crude are up more than 4% this week.

Analysts say the gains come as worries about demand start to ease.

Instead traders have been buoyed by hopes that vaccines could soon restore some economic normality.

Prices also found support from bets that OPEC will delay a planned production increase.

The oil producers’ group and allies will meet at the end of the month.

They’re widely expected to delay January’s planned output hike by at least three months.

Traders are also keeping an eye on events in Washington.

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden had promised during his campaign to reassess ties with top oil producer Saudi Arabia.

He’s called for more accountability over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and an end to U.S. support the war in Yemen.

This week though, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman sounded unconcerned about any new friction:

"I have no doubt in my mind that our bilateral relationship with the U.S. stood all the weathering situations and stood all the gales and the winds and storms.”

More encouraging for oil markets are signs of movement on U.S. stimulus plans.

That after Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to resume discussions on further relief measures.