© Reuters.  © Reuters.

Investing.com – Crude oil prices settled higher on signs of bullish Chinese demand while geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East raised the threat of supply disruptions.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for November delivery rose 1.7% to settle at $51.45 a barrel, while on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent added 63 cents to trade at $56.88 a barrel.

Chinese crude imports rose by roughly 1 million barrels per day (bpd) to 9 million bpd in September, data showed on Friday. That eased investor concerns that global demand is set to weaken over the next year.

The International Agency Energy (EIA) on Thursday suggested that global demand for oil in 2018 could come under pressure forecasting demand for Opec oil to fall to 32.5 million bpd next year – roughly 150,000 bpd lower than the group pumped last month.

Also supporting an uptick in crude oil prices were concerns that political uncertainty in Iran and Iraq could lead to supply disruptions.

As was expected, President Donald Trump on Friday decided against certifying the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, raising the risk of doing business in the Middle Eastern nation.

Under the agreement, Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear programme for at least 10 years in exchange for lighter economic sanctions that had crippled its economy.

Meanwhile, investors continued to monitor ongoing unrest in Iraq as the fallout over an independence referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan region threatens to disrupt the operation of a pipeline that carries 500,000-600,000 barrels of crude per day.

In the U.S., oilfield services firm Baker Hughes said Friday its weekly count of oil rigs operating in the United States fell by 5 to 743.

The weekly rig count is an important barometer for the drilling industry and serves as a proxy for oil production and oil services demand.

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