© Reuters.

By Gina Lee

Investing.com – Oil was up Friday morning in Asia, set for its second consecutive weekly advance thanks to a broad rally in commodities as well as positive economic data from the U.S. and China brightening the fuel demand outlook.

were up 0.73% to $68.59 by 13:45 PM ET (5:45 AM GMT) and gained 0.74% to $65.19.

In the U.S., Thursday’s data said that 498,000 claims were submitted during the past week, the since mid-March 2020 when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Investors now await April’s employment report, including , due later in the day.

More positive data came from China, the world’s biggest oil importer, earlier in the day. The for April was 56.3, grew 32.3% year-on-year, grew 43.1% year-on-year and the stood at $42.86 billion. The better-than-expected data reflected strong domestic and international demand, with Chinese energy consumption also rebounding from 2020’s COVID-19-induced slump and crude imports jumping by more than 7% in the first four months of 2021.

The black liquid has roared back to life in 2021, with Brent futures coming close to passing the $70 mark on Wednesday. The positive American and Chinese data offset concerns about rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in other countries. The number of daily cases in India, the third-largest oil importer, hit a fresh record of 414,188.

“Brent at $68 to $69 appears to be broadly in equilibrium, having factored in the U.S.-Europe reopening optimism and the COVID-19 hotspots across Asia and Latin America… the worst of India news has been baked in. I don’t see it delivering bigger shocks to oil,” Vanda (NASDAQ:) Insights founder Vandana Hari told Bloomberg.

Investors are also monitoring U.S.-Iran efforts to revive a nuclear agreement that could lead to the lifting of sanctions on Iranian crude supplies. A fourth round of indirect talks in Vienna beginning later in the day, a pact could come within the month if Iran agrees to rein in its atomic work.

However, “I don’t think Iran is a factor in the short-term outlook… beyond the window dressing, it looks like an impasse,” said Vanda Insights Hari.

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