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Oil Prices Set for Weekly Gain as Middle East Tensions Outweigh Economic Concerns

Investing.com - Oil prices were on track for weekly gains as Middle East tensions supported prices while traders waited for the latest reading on U.S. economic growth amid hopes that central banks would tackle any weakness.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 40 cents, or 0.7%, to $56.42 a barrel by 7:42 AM ET (11:42 GMT), while Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., rose 34 cents, or 0.5%, to $63.73.

U.S crude was on track for weekly gains of 1.2%, while Brent was up 2.0% from a week ago.

Tensions remain high in the Strait of Hormuz, a key gateway for global oil shipping, in the aftermath of Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker last week. Tehran has still refused to release the vessel.

Oil has been supported by the potential threat of military action that could disrupt supply.

Concerns over a global slowdown that could negatively impact demand for oil have limited gains in crude.

The U.S. will release the advanced reading of second-quarter gross domestic product at 8:30 AM ET (12:30 GMT) amid expectations that growth will drop to its slowest pace in more than two years.

But analysts said that the European Central Bank’s indications on Thursday that it was prepared to provide further stimulus in September and expectations that the Federal Reserve will step in with a rate cut next week offered some glimmers of hope for an economic recovery.

“Further global economic data weakness may have limited effects on crude demand as the next round of easing from the ECB, along with the Fed’s shift to an easing cycle, will help to bolster the economy,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.

In other energy trading, gasoline futures edged forward 0.1% to $1.8813 a gallon by 7:43 AM ET (11:43 GMT), while heating oil rose 0.2% to $1.9175 a gallon.

Lastly, natural gas futures traded down 0.8% to $2.226 per million British thermal unit.

-- Reuters contributed to this report.

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