Why Oil Prices Just Rallied To $70

While "there is a lot of positive news for the recent move higher in oil", said Scott Gecas, senior strategic account executive at Long Leaf Trading Group, "the biggest factor to me is last week's inventory report, [which] showed a huge 4.6 million barrel decline" in US crude stocks.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures jumped $1.56, or about 2.5 per cent, to $65.02 a barrel while Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the US, rose $1.66, or roughly 2.4 per cent, to $70.31 a barrel.

Both the WTI and the Brent benchmarks were trading up on Tuesday by nearly 3 percent, with Brent reaching the psychologically important $70 threshold shortly after 9:00am EST.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $63.76 a barrel, up 34 cents, or 0.5 percent.

Before the rebound late on Wednesday, after the release of the Energy Information Administration (EIA) inventory data, WTI and Brent had hit two-week lows after China proposed a broad range of tariffs on US exports, feeding fears of a trade war.

Despite a softening of trade concerns, oil markets still face an abundance of supplies that puts pressure on producers to keep their prices competitive in order not to lose market share.

Traders said weekly USA fuel inventory data would provide further market guidance.

The remarks helped soothe investor jitters over the ongoing tit-for-tat tariff dispute between the US and China, which investors had feared might escalate into a full-blown trade war between the world's two largest economies.

Market players now looked ahead to fresh data on US commercial crude inventories to gauge the strength of demand in the world's largest oil consumer and how fast output levels will continue to rise.

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Past the trade dispute, changes in the Trump administration have triggered fears over the possibility of returning U.S. sanctions on main oil exporting countries, including Iran, Venezuela, and Russian Federation.

"In addition to the risk of protectionism, there has been a significant change in the Trump administration that has raised risks of potential sanctions on key oil exporting countries including Iran, Venezuela and Russian Federation", U.S. bank JPMorgan said.

The American Petroleum Institute is due to publish oil storage data later on Tuesday while official data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due on Wednesday.

Oil markets have been supported by healthy demand and supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Oil prices overall remain optimistic due to strong demand, as well as the supply curb by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russian Federation.

The United States late previous year overtook top exporter Saudi Arabia as the world's second biggest crude producer.

JPMorgan said it expects Brent and WTI prices to average $69.50 and $65.20 per barrel in 2018, respectively, while it forecasts $64 per barrel for Brent and $58.50 per barrel for WTI in 2019.

OPEC and other producers, including Russian Federation, agreed to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in November last year to slash global inventories to the five year-average.

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