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UPDATE 1-Oil prices rise $1 on China's reopening optimism

Reuters · 01/05/2023 23:03
UPDATE 1-Oil prices rise $1 on China's reopening optimism

Updates with analyst comments, latest prices

By Emily Chow

- Oil prices rose as much as $1 on Friday, extending gains from the previous trading session on hopes of a China demand boost and after data showed lower fuel inventories in the United States following a winter storm that hit during the year end.

Brent LCOc1 crude futures were 94 cents, or 1.2%, higher at $79.63 a barrel at 0345 GMT, after settling 85 cents stronger at $78.69 on Thursday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate CLc1 crude futures were up 91 cents, or 1.2%, at $74.58 a barrel. They had settled 83 cents higher at $73.67 in the previous session.

However, oil prices were on track to end the week lower, with both contracts down around 7% on a week earlier. Concerns about a possible global recession have weighed on trading sentiment.

"China's reopening optimism, especially further stimulus measures to boost the property sector, is the main bullish factor for the oil prices, which has improved the demand outlook in the year," said Tina Teng, an analyst at CMC Markets.

"A softened U.S. dollar has also added upside momentum to the oil markets," she added.

China announced more state support
on Thursday, including establishing a dynamic adjustment mechanism on mortgage rates for first-time home buyers, in a bid to boost its highly indebted property sector, which accounts for a quarter of the country's economy.

China's total of passenger trips made by travellers via road, rail, water and air during the upcoming Lunar New Year is expected to reach 2.1 billion this year, transportation officials said on Friday, double the 1.05 billion during the same period last year.

Daily passenger flights scheduled during the holiday season beginning Saturday are averaging around 73% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

China, the world's largest crude oil importer, has abruptly ended its stringent zero-COVID policy, leading to a surge in COVID infections across the country.

While services activity in China contracted in December for a fourth straight month amid rising infections, the pace of declines slowed and business confidence rose to a 17-month high.

In the U.S.,
data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed on Thursday that distillate inventories USOILD=ECI, which include diesel and heating oil, had dropped more than expected in the week to Dec. 30. They fell by 1.4 million barrels, compared with expectations of a 396,000-barrel drop.

Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline stocks USOILG=ECI fell 346,000 barrels last week, according to the EIA data, compared with analysts' expectations for a 486,000-barrel drop.

(Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Stephen Coates and Bradley Perrett)

((emily.chow@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: emily.chow.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.))