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Oil rises 3% on global economic optimism, despite surprise US crude build

  • China reopens after COVID curbs, oil demand expected to rise
  • HSBC only sees another rate hike from the US central bank
  • US crude oil shares jump in surprising development, biggest since February 2021
  • Russians see no problems with oil exports despite sanctions

NEW YORK, Jan 11 (Reuters) – Oil prices rose 3% to a one-week high on Wednesday, as hopes for a better global economic outlook and concerns over the impact of sanctions on Russian oil production offset a massive surprise rally in U.S. crude stocks.

Brent futures were up $2.46, or 3.1%, at $82.56 a barrel by 1:14 p.m. EST (1814 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose $2.33, or 3.1%, to $77.45.

That puts both benchmarks on track to end the day at their highest since December 30 with WTI up for a fifth straight day for the first time since October 2022 and Brent up for a third straight day for the first time since December 2022.

Global stocks were up on hopes that US inflation and earnings figures on Thursday point to a resilient economy and a slower pace of rate hikes.

If inflation comes in below expectations, that will drive the dollar lower, analysts said, which could boost oil demand because it makes the commodity cheaper for buyers holding other currencies.

The Federal Reserve is likely to raise its target interest rate for the last time at its Jan. 31-Feb. 1 monetary policy meeting, lifting it by 50 basis points (bps) to a range of 4.75%-5.00%, HSBC said in a research note.

Much of the market’s optimism was tied to top oil importer China’s reopening of its economy after the end of strict COVID-19 curbs.

“China could come back strongly, especially if supported by monetary and fiscal stimulus. Central banks may find they have room to cut interest rates if inflation falls significantly and economies are in recession,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA in London.

China’s overall passenger car sales are projected to increase by 5% in 2023, Volkswagen AG China President Ralf Brandstaetter told Chinese media.

China’s industrial output is expected to have grown 3.6% in 2022 from a year earlier, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said, despite curbing production and logistics disruptions from Covid-19.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said crude oil inventories rose by 19.0 million barrels last week, the third-largest weekly increase on record and the most since stocks rose by a record 21.6 million barrels in February 2021. Last week’s increase came as refineries were slow to restore production after a cold freeze of operations in late 2022.

That compares with the 2.2 million barrel drop in crude stocks that analysts forecast in a Reuters poll and industry data from the American Petroleum Institute (API), which showed a build of 14.9 million barrels. ,

An international price cap imposed on sales of Russian crude went into effect on December 5 and more curbs targeting product sales are set to take effect next month as the EU continues to work on more sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian oil producers have had no problems securing export deals despite Western sanctions and price caps, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told a televised online cabinet meeting. read more

Additional reporting by Noah Browning in London, Sonali Paul in Melbourne, Trixie Yap in Singapore and Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy, David Goodman and David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Scott Disavino

Thomson Reuters

Covers the North American power and natural gas markets.

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