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Oil prices extend longest rally in 17 months as supplies seen tighter

09 January 2019, 08:41 | Hattie Nash

Oil prices extend longest rally in 17 months as supplies seen tighter

Oil prices extend longest rally in 17 months as supplies seen tighter

Oil prices rose yesterday amid hopes of a breakthrough in the US-China trade row, even as analysts slashed their price forecasts for the year ahead.

While the global benchmark, Brent crude oil was up $1 at $58.06 per barrel, having touched a session high of $58.90, the United States crude was up 88 cents at $48.84 a barrel. Meanwhile, a post-market industry report was said to report substantial increases in American gasoline and diesel inventories, a bearish signal for crude demand.

The last time crude rallied for this long was the summer of 2017.

The United States and Beijing have been locked in an escalating trade spat since early 2018, raising import tariffs on each other's goods.

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The oil prices are drawing support from an agreed supply cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, well as some non-member countries such as Russian Federation and Oman. "They can be very convincing when they choose to be".

With oil futures having gained over 7 percent since last Monday, Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note that, "We continue to view the OPEC production cuts that became official last week as a legitimate bullish consideration and we still look for the reduction to translate to a reduced USA crude surplus that could potentially be erased in some 8-9 weeks".

The crude prices have declined by 40% after declaring the 4 year high, which was over $76 per barrel.

The West Texas Intermediate for February delivery increased 0.56 US dollar to settle at 48.52 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for March delivery rose 0.27 dollar to close at 57.33 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

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But as usual in the crude trading world, for every bearish prediction there is an optimistic reaction based on exactly the same data, and on Monday that was provided by Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research, who argued that "Between the OPEC cuts and weak Venezuelan production and Libyan problems, all of that is helping to put a floor on prices".

February natural gas NGG19, +0.98% settled at $2.967 per million British thermal units, up 0.8%, after a 3.3% drop on Monday. "Fed's easier stance and Opec's commitment to cut production as well as expectations that inventories should drop are lending a hand to this positive investor sentiment".

American crude stockpiles probably declined by 1.75 million barrels last week, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts ahead of government data on January 9. Nationwide inventories are near their lowest level in nearly two months.

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