Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Brent crude breaches $70 a barrel, nears $71

Brent and WTI hit their highest since November at $70.86 and $63.87 a barrel, respectively, on Monday

Brent is expected to average at $55 per barrel next year with WTI at $50 per barrel by mid-2020, according to Swiss bank UBS. Bloomberg
Brent is expected to average at $55 per barrel next year with WTI at $50 per barrel by mid-2020, according to Swiss bank UBS. Bloomberg

Oil prices rose to their highest since November on Monday, driven by Opec supply cuts, US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela and fighting in Libya as well as strong US jobs data.

International benchmark Brent futures were at $70.70 per barrel at 4.43pm UAE time, up 36 cents or 0.5 per cent from their last close.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 72 cents, or 1.1 per cent, at $63.80 per barrel.

Brent and WTI hit their highest since November at $70.86 and $63.87 a barrel, respectively, earlier on Monday.

To prop up prices, the Opec and allies such as Russia pledged to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of supply from the start of this year.

"Opec's ongoing supply cuts and US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela have been the major driver of prices throughout this year," said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at futures brokerage FXTM.

"However, the latest boost was received from an escalation of fighting in Libya which is threatening further supply disruption," he added.

Strong US jobs data on Friday continued to support markets.

Despite the host of price drivers, there are still factors that could bring oil prices down later this year.

Russia is a reluctant participant in its agreement with Opec and may increase production if the deal is not extended before it expires on July 1, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday.

Another key architect of the Opec-Russia deal, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia's direct investment fund, said on Monday OPEC and its allies should raise output from June. Dmitriev previously said it was too early to pull back from cuts.

Russian oil output reached a national record high of 11.16 million bpd last year.

In the United States, crude production reached a global record of 12.2 million bpd in late March.

US crude exports have also risen, breaking through 3 million bpd for the first time earlier this year.

There also remain concerns about the global economy, especially should China and the United States fail to resolve their trade dispute soon.

"Global demand has weakened, and existing tariffs on Chinese goods shipments to the US are providing an additional drag," rating agency Moody's said on Monday, although it added that Chinese stimulus measures would likely support growth over 2019.

Updated: April 8, 2019 07:10 PM

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