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Oil rises as supply constraints outweigh China slowdown fears

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Oil prices rose on Friday as involuntary supply cuts from Venezuela, Libya and Iran supported perceptions of a tightening market, already underpinned by a production reduction deal from OPEC and its allies.

Brent crude oil futures were at $71.67 a barrel at 1044 GMT, up 84 cents and heading for a weekly gain of 1.9 percent, their third weekly gain in a row.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $64.53, up 95 cents and set for a weekly rise of 2.3 percent, their sixth straight week of gains.

“For the momentum to continue next week, WTI needs to close today above $64 a barrel and preferably break the resistance of $65 a barrel. Volume has been very strong throughout the week,” said Petromatrix’s Olivier Jakob.

Oil markets have been lifted by more than a third this year by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), U.S. sanctions on oil exporters Iran and Venezuela, plus escalating conflict in Libya.

“We see Brent and WTI prices averaging $75 per barrel and $67 per barrel respectively through the rest of this year, but risk is asymmetrically skewed to the upside,” RBC Capital Markets said in a note.

“Geopolitically infused rallies could shoot prices toward or even past the $80 per barrel mark for intermittent periods this summer.”

OPEC and its allies meet in June to decide whether to continue withholding supply. Though OPEC’s de-facto leader, Saudi Arabia, is considered keen to keep cutting, sources within the group said it could raise output from July if disruptions continue elsewhere continue.

On the demand side, most of the world’s growth in fuel consumption is coming from Asia, where China’s economic growth is expected to slow to its lowest in nearly 30 years at 6.2 percent this year, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

“While macro fears of an economic hard landing may be overblown, the concentration risk of global oil demand (in Asia) remains underappreciated,” RBC Capital Markets said.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Tunisia: former President Ben Ali confirmed dead

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All time, former Tunisia’s President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali has died in exile aged 83, his family says.

Ben Ali led the country for 30years and was credited with delivering stability and some economic prosperity.

But he received widespread criticism for suppressing political freedoms and for widespread corruption.

In 2011, he was forced from office following mass street protests. This triggered a wave of similar uprisings across the Arab world.

At least half a dozen countries in the region saw their president fall or conflicts break out in the wake of the former Tunisian leader’s downfall, in what became known as the Arab Spring.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Gantz refuse’s Netanyahu offer on unity government

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After a vote tally showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tied with his main rival.

Israel’s weakened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw his offer on Thursday for a coalition with his strongest political rival,  Gantz, swiftly rebuffed after failing to secure a governing majority in a tight election.

Netanyahu’s surprise move was an abrupt change of strategy for the right-wing leader. Its rejection could spell weeks of wrangling after Tuesday’s election, which followed an inconclusive national ballot in April.

Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party emerged from the second round of voting this year slightly ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud, but also short of enough supporters in the 120-member parliament for a ruling bloc.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, said in a video clip in which he urged Gantz, the country’s former military chief, to meet him “as soon as today”, that he had pledged during the election campaign to form a right-wing, Likud-led government.

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