Oil prices racked up small gains on Friday as investors wait for the weekend meeting in Doha, Qatar between major producers that could result in a global deal to freeze production volumes at their current levels, easing fears of a supply glut and buoying prices. Iran is not expected to join in the deal however,, proving anxious to investors.
Brent crude futures added six cents, or 0.14% to trade at $43.91 a barrel, not far from a five-month high at $44.94, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures inched up eight cents, or 0.19% to hover around $41.95 a barrel.
Earlier China data showed GDP slowing down in the first quarter to record a growth of 6.7%, compared to 6.8% in the last quarter, but matching expectations. Industrial production on the other hand jumped 6.8% y/y in March, easily beating forecasts of a 5.9% rise.
China's Shanghai index didn't react much to the data however, dipping 0.19%, while Japan's Nikkei index gave up over half a percentage point, moving away from a two-week high hit yesterday. Australian shares bucked the trend, climbing 0.70% to three-week highs.
Investors wait for an array of economic data later today, with Canada's manufacturing sales expected to have fallen 1.4% m/m in February, compared to January's upbeat 2.3% rise, which would be negative for the loonie.
From the U.S., Industrial production is expected to have improved in March, to fall just 0.1% m/m, compared to February's 0.5% slide, which could offer some support for the dollar.