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MARKET WATCH: US, Brent oil prices rise on geopolitical tensions

Published on 12/08/2017

Brent crude oil for February delivery gained nearly $1 to settle above $62/bbl on the London market Dec. 7. The benchmark continued gaining on Dec. 8.

Analysts credited both Brent and US benchmark oil price support to the release of official Chinese data that showed crude imports rose in November to more than 9 million b/d.

Chinese crude imports for October reached only 7.3 million b/d. The Chinese imports for November represented the second-highest monthly figure on record with China’s customs officials.

Crude imports by China rose 12% year-over-year during the first 11 months of 2017, Commerzbank analysts said.

“Consequently, China will supersede US as the world’s largest crude importer this year,” Commerzbank analysts wrote in a Dec. 8 research note.

Giovanni Staunovo, UBS Wealth Management analyst, said crude prices, which fell to 3-week lows on Dec. 6, made a quick rebound on “positive equity markets around the world.”

Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East—including US President Donald Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel—also supported oil prices, analysts said.

Some analysts suggested the death of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh also contributed to higher crude prices Dec. 6-7.

Energy prices

The January 2018 light, sweet crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 73¢ on Dec. 7 to $56.69/bbl. The February 2018 contract rose 72¢ to $56.75/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas price for January delivery fell 16¢ to a rounded $2.76/MMbtu. The Henry Hub cash gas price was $2.81/MMbtu, down 9¢.

Heating oil for January rose 3.6¢ to a rounded $1.90/gal. The NYMEX reformulated gasoline blendstock for January increased nearly 4¢ to a rounded $1.70/gal.

The Brent crude contract for February 2018 on London’s ICE climbed 98¢ to $62.20/bbl. The March 2018 contract was up 92¢ to $61.95/bbl.

The gas oil contract for December was $549/tonne, up $3.25.

The price of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of crudes was unavailable.

Contact Paula Dittrick at


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