Oil prices were heading for another monthly decline on Friday after disappointing US economic data and uncertainty over further interest rate hikes weighed on the demand outlook.
Brent crude futures for June were up 42 cents, or 0.5 per cent, at $78.79 a barrel by 09:46 GMT while the more actively traded July contract was down 1 cent at $78.21. Brent is set for its fourth straight monthly fall.
Brent prices retraced earlier losses after data showed the euro zone returned to growth in the first quarter, albeit only modestly and more slowly than expected.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude lost 15 cents, or 0.2pc, to trade at $74.61 a barrel and is set for its sixth straight monthly decline.
Data on Thursday showed that US economic growth slowed more than expected in the first quarter.
Investors are worried that potential interest rate hikes by inflation-fighting central banks could slow economic growth and dent energy demand in the United States, Britain and the European Union. The US Federal Reserve’s next policy meeting is over May 2-3.
On the supply side, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak on Thursday said the OPEC+ producer group saw no need for further output cuts despite lower than expected Chinese demand.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, known collectively as OPEC+, this month cut its combined output target by about 1.16m barrels per day (bpd), which sent oil prices higher.
The market rallied on the OPEC+ announcement but has since weakened on concern about possible recession and the impact that would have on demand.
Energy Information Administration data this week showed that US crude oil and gasoline inventories fell more than expected last week as demand for the motor fuel picked up ahead of the peak summer driving season.