Oil prices rise 2 percent as China signals possible fiscal stimulus

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Oil prices rise 2 percent after tumbling the previous session.
Crude futures get support from signs that China might roll out more fiscal stimulus.
Analysts warn that any price recovery may prove short-lived.

Oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday after tumbling the previous session, although a darkening economic outlook may soon weigh on growth in fuel demand.

Prices fell on Monday after data showed weakening imports and exports in China, raising new worries about a global slowdown. But China’s National Development and Reform Commission offered some support on Tuesday, signaling it might roll out more fiscal stimulus.

Brent crude oil was up $1.14, or 1.9 percent, at $60.13 per barrel by 9:13 a.m. ET (1413 GMT), after briefly climbing above $60. The benchmark crude had fallen more than 2 percent on Monday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose $1.08, or 2.1 percent, to $51.59.

But analysts said a price recovery may prove short-lived.

“Any price rally is unlikely to be sustainable in the first half of the year simply because the demand for OPEC’s oil is expected to be lower than the projected output from the organization,” PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga said.

The Middle East-dominated OPEC and allies including Russia agreed in late 2018 to cut supply to rein in a global glut. The cuts were effective from January.

Further help has come from Friday’s data showing the number of U.S. rigs looking for new oil production dipped to 873 in early 2019.

The rig data, released on Friday, pointed to a potential dent in production growth which was at more than 2 million barrels per day last year, making the United States the world’s top oil producer.

This could rein in the swift rise in output from the United States, which became the world’s top oil producer in 2018.

“OPEC-led cuts and declining U.S. rig counts have bolstered market sentiment in the new year,” Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures said.

Falling oil exports from Iran due to U.S. sanctions that were reimposed in November, have also offered some support to crude prices, although Washington has granted sanctions waivers to allow Iran’s main customers, mostly in Asia, to import some oil.

Japan expects to restart oil imports from Iran as early as this month, the Nikkei business daily reported on Tuesday, with some Japanese banks notifying customers they will resume transactions for oil purchases.

South Korea expects to receive Iranian oil imports in January after a four-month interruption.

HSBC said it was cutting its average 2019 Brent price forecast by $16 per barrel to $64 per barrel, citing the rise in U.S. production and an “increasingly uncertain demand backdrop.”
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