UPDATE 9-Oil nudges down but secures weekly gain on recovery hopes


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    * Brent settled up about 6% on the week
    * U.S., China economic recoveries bolster sentiment 
    * IEA and OPEC boost 2021 global oil demand growth forecasts
    * U.S. oil and gas rig count highest since April 2020 

 (Updates with settlement prices, adds commentary)
    By Laura Sanicola
    NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuters)a - Oil settled modestly lower
on Friday but secured a weekly gain on a stronger demand outlook
and signs of economic recovery in China and the United States
that offset concerns about rising COVID-19 infections in other
major economies.
    Brent crude  LCOc1  settled down 17 cents, or 0.3%, at
$66.77 a barrel. The global benchmark finished up 6% on the week
after rising in the past four sessions. 
    U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude  CLc1  settled down
33 cents, or 0.5%, at $63.13.
    China's first-quarter gross domestic product jumped 18.3%
year on year, official data showed.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2M905E That followed a
big increase in U.S. retail sales and a drop in unemployment
claims released on Thursday.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2M71WD
    "Strong economic data, spurred by the Biden $1,400 stimulus
check, is a huge positive development for the energy patch,"
said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.
    This week, both the International Energy Agency and the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
increased their forecasts for oil demand growth for 2021, citing
the stronger-than-expected rebound in activity in certain
economies.  IEA/M   OPEC/M 
    Those forecasts were also supported by Wednesday's
government data that showed overall U.S. crude inventories fell
by 5.9 million barrels as refining activity picked up.  EIA/S 
    Not all economies are recovering, however, as India's
coronavirus infection rate hit a record while Germany's
chancellor on Friday said a third wave of the virus had the
country in its grip.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nS8N2D400M
    Oil has recovered from pandemic-induced lows last year,
helped by record cuts to oil output by OPEC and its allies, a
group known as OPEC+.
    Some of the OPEC+ cuts will be eased starting in May, and
the group meets on April 28 to consider further tweaks to the
supply pact.
    In rival producer the United States, however, the number of
drilling rigs has risen to the highest level since April 2020,
energy services firm Baker Hughes Co  BKR.N  said in its closely
followed report on Friday.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2M6221

 (Additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London, Sonali Paul in
Melbourne and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore; Editing by
Marguerita Choy, Will Dunham, Mark Potter and Jonathan Oatis)

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