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Crude Oil Prices - Weekly Outlook: March 25 - 29

- Worries about a broadening global economic slowdown which could threaten demand for crude are likely to have the biggest impact on oil markets in the week ahead.

The IHS Markit preliminary Purchasing Managers’ Index, led by Germany, plunged to 44.7 in March, its lowest level since 2012 and well below economists’ expectation of 48, data showed on Friday. It was the index's third-consecutive reading below 50 and came as new orders and employment declined.

The underwhelming data exacerbated worries over slowing global growth prospects and energy demand.

Oil traders will also focus on the outlook for global crude supplies amid signals that OPEC-led production cuts have helped tighten an oversupplied market.

OPEC, which together with some non-affiliated producers like Russia, known as 'OPEC+', agreed late last year to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to remove a glut and prop up prices.

Fresh data on U.S. commercial crude inventories and production activity will also capture the market's attention this week.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that U.S. crude supplies unexpectedly fell by nearly 10 million barrels for the week ended March 15, the most since July, thanks to strong export and refining demand.

Offering a hint on future production activity, U.S. energy firms reduced the number of oil rigs operating for a fifth week in a row, cutting nine rigs to the lowest count in nearly a year. The number fell by nine to 824 last week.

Trade talks between the U.S. and China will also keep investors on their toes, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other members of the Trump administration head to Beijing.

Oil futures settled lower on Friday, with prices pulling back from four-month highs as worries about the global economy weighed.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude declined 94 cents, or about 1.6%, to settle at $59.04 a barrel by close of trade. It went as high as $60.39 on Thursday, the most since Nov. 12.

For the week, the U.S. benchmark ended up 0.9%.

Meanwhile, International Brent crude oil futures ended Friday's session down 92 cents, or roughly 1.4%, at $66.75 a barrel.

Brent prices, which on Thursday hit their highest so far this year at $68.48, saw a drop of approximately 0.2% on the week.

Ahead of the coming week, has compiled a list of the main events likely to affect the oil market.

Tuesday, March 26

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is to publish its weekly update on U.S. oil supplies.

Wednesday, March 27

The EIA will release its weekly report on oil stockpiles.

Friday, March 29

{{0|Baker Hughes}} will release weekly data on the U.S. oil rig count.

-- Reuters contributed to this report

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