Muscat Daily

Oil prices rise 4% last week over demand hopes in US, China


Oil prices increased more than 4% during last week ending January 26, reaching twomonth highs over potential disruption­s in the Red Sea and greater demand hopes in the world's largest oil-consuming countries, the US and China.

Internatio­nal benchmark Brent crude traded at $82.02 per barrel on Friday, increasing by over 4.4% relative to the closing price of $78.56 a barrel on Friday last week.

West Texas Intermedia­te (WTI), the US benchmark, traded at $76.67 a barrel at the same time on Friday, for a rise of around 4.6% from last Friday's session that closed at $73.25 per barrel.

Both benchmarks started the week on a negative note over weak demand woes in the world’s largest fuel consumer, the US, as strong winter storms killed several people in many US states, destroyed buildings and cut power. Authoritie­s have warned of the possibilit­y of another bout of snow and ice sweeping in for the weekend.

However, these concerns were eased, and prices rebounded later on Thursday to two-month highs, with data revealing strong demand in the US and due to escalating tension in the Middle East.

According to data released by the Energy Informatio­n Administra­tion (EIA) on Wednesday, US commercial crude oil inventorie­s decreased by around 9.2mn barrels to 420.7mn barrels, compared to the market expectatio­n of a fall of around 3mn barrels.

Meanwhile, an official from the UN Conference on Trade and Developmen­t (UNCTAD) on Thursday warned against the negative impacts of the ongoing crisis in the Red Sea on global trade.

'We are very concerned that the attacks on Red Sea shipping are adding tensions and costs to

Global oil benchmark Brent crude traded at $82.02 per barrel on Friday, increasing by over 4.4% during the week

global trade,' Jan Hoffmann, chief of the UNCTAD Trade Facilitati­on Section, told reporters virtually.

The Red Sea route and the Suez Canal are 'critical' for global trade flows, Hoffmann said, adding, 'The Suez Canal handles approximat­ely 12% to 15% of global trade. For container shipping, it's even more important as 20% of the world's container trade goes through the Suez Canal.'

On Monday, US and British forces said they carried out strikes against eight Houthi targets in Yemen in response to the group’s attacks in the Red Sea.

Following the strikes, Yemen's Houthis vowed to retaliate, as Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said: 'These assaults won't go unpunished.'

Demand hopes in China, the world's largest importer and second-largest oil consumer, also helped price upticks as the country ramped up efforts to revive its economy, which in turn drove up oil prices.

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