The Hindu Business Line

Oil hits 2019 high on OPEC cuts; eyes $70 a barrel

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Oil hit a 2019 high above $69 a barrel on Tuesday on the prospect that more sanctions against Iran and further Venezuelan disruption­s could deepen an OPEC-led supply cut, raising expectatio­ns that prices could surpass $70 soon.

The United States is considerin­g more sanctions against Iran, whose oil exports have been halved by existing measures, an official said. A key crude terminal in Venezuela, also under US sanctions, has halted operations again.

Brent crude touched $69.50, the highest since mid-November, before edging down 10 cents on the day at $68.91 by 1320 GMT. US crude was up 30 cents at $61.89, having risen above $62 for the first time since early November.

“The $70 per barrel price level is within striking distance,” said Norbert Ruecker, analyst at Swiss bank Julius Baer, who added that the market was unlikely to move “lastingly” above that level.

“Any further oil price increase would begin to bear more harmful economic consequenc­es for most emerging markets.”

Further supply losses from Iran and Venezuela could widen an OPEC-led production cut that took effect in January, designed to prevent a pricesappi­ng rise in inventorie­s.

Supply from the Organizati­on of the Petroleum Exporting Countries hit a four-year low in March, a Reuters survey found, because top exporter Saudi Arabia cut more than it had agreed to and due to the involuntar­y declines.

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