Oil prices eased from 2019 peaks on Friday as financial development worries weighed on sentiment, pausing a three-month rally driven by OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions versus Iran and Venezuela.
Brent crude oil futures were at $67.72 per barrel was down 14 cents or 0.2 percent from their last close. Brent hit a four-month high of $68.69 per barrel the day before.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures fell 0.4 percent to $59.84 a barrel. WTI also hit a 2019 peak at $60.39 the preceding day.
"Global economic growth still remains a concern," said the director of energy consultancy Trifecta.
Financial growth has decelerated across Asia, Europe and North America, possibly denting fuel consumption.
Oil prices this year have been propped up by supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-allied partners such as Russia.
Canadian investment bank RBC Capital Markets said oil was still below the fiscal breakeven level in a number of OPEC nations, meaning that many manufacturers have an interest in further propping up the market.
"With the driver of the OPEC bus, Saudi Arabia, showing no signs of wavering in the face of renewed pressure from Washington, we believe that OPEC is likely to extend the deal for the duration of 2019 when they next assemble in Vienna in June," RBC said.
RBC said Russia was only a disinclined partner in the supply cuts, but would “ultimately opt to preserve the arrangement and retain a leadership role of a 21-nation group that accounts for around 45 percent of global oil output.”
Outside OPEC and Russia’s supply policy, oil prices have also been increased by U.S. sanctions on OPEC-member Iran and Venezuela.
Iran crude oil shipments have averaged just over 1 million bpd in March, down from 1.3 million bpd in February and a 2018 peak of at least 2.5 million bpd in April, before the U.S. sanctions were announced.
Venezuela crude oil production has also diminished in the midst of U.S. sanctions and an internal political and financial crisis, tumbling from a high of over 3 million bpd at the beginning of the period to not much more than 1 million bpd presently.
Additional price rises have also been crumpled by an increase of more than 2 million bpd in U.S. crude oil production since early 2018 to a record 12.1 million bpd, making the United States the largest manufacturer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Climbing U.S. yield has resulted in growing exports, which have doubled over the previous year to more than 3 million bpd.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that the United States would become a net crude oil exporter by 2021.