Crude oil prices swung between gains and losses in a volatile session on Friday, and were on course for their biggest weekly fall since June, hurt by concerns over a slow recovery from the coronavirus pandemic amid low demand. Global benchmark Brent futures quoted within a $1 range, between $43.53 and $44.54 per barrel, following a weak start at $43.76 compared to their previous close of $44.07 per barrel. At 2:23 pm, the Brent futures contract quoted at $44.69 per barrel, down 21 cents - or 0.47 per cent - compared to its previous close.
WTI crude oil was flat at $41.40 per barrel at the time, having moved between $40.84 and $41.87 per barrel earlier.
The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)'s Brent futures are considered a benchmark for global oil markets, besides the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex)'s WTI crude futures.
Analysts awaited the release of data on US payrolls due on Friday, which some say could be a selling trigger if an expected slowdown in hiring is steeper than forecast.
"Weakness in the equity market, mixed US economic data, improving production in the Gulf of Mexico and Iraq's signal that it may seek extension for additional production cuts are weighing on crude oil," said Ravindra Rao, VP-head commodity research at Kotak Securities.
"Crude has weakened but continued to hold above the key $40/bbl level and we may see further decline only if US jobs report disappoints significantly," he added.
At Thursday's close, Brent crude is down 33.23 per cent so far this year.
In April, the contract had hit a 21-year low of $15.98 per barrel as the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdowns hampered global oil demand.
India is the world's third largest importer and consumer of crude oil.
A record supply cut since May by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, has supported prices.