Oil gains more ground

Both benchmarks on track to finsih the week higher on hopes output cuts will be extended

Oil futures rose in early trading on Friday on growing optimism that big producing countries will extend output cuts to curb a persistent glut in crude, with key benchmarks heading for a second week of gains.

Brent crude was up 32 cents, or 0.6%, at $52.83 early on Friday, after settling up half a percent on Thursday. The contract is on track for a 3.5% climb this week, a second week of gains.

US crude was up 32 cents, or 0.7%, at $49.67 a barrel, after finishing the previous session at $49.35 a barrel, the highest close since 26 April. The contract is heading for a weekly increase of 3.4%.

Oil prices have been trapped in a tight range in recent weeks as rising US production has erased the effects of output cuts by Opec and other countries, including Russia.

But market watchers are growing more confident that Opec, Russia and other big producers will extend cuts of almost 1.8 million barrels per day until the end of March 2018. US producers are not party to any agreements capping production.

As with other markets, concerns about US President Donald Trump's agenda amidst investigations in Washington faded into the background.

"With the political turmoil easing in the US overnight, the market will return to the fundamental drivers," ANZ said in a research note.

"This should see oil prices remain well bid, as Opec continues to talk up a continuation of the production cut agreement," it said.

On 25 May, leaders from Opec and other producing countries will meet in Vienna to decide on output policy.

Rosneft, the largest oil producer in Russia will meet agreements with the grouping on oil output reductions, the company's chief executive told reporters in Berlin on Thursday.