Brent heading towards $ 70 as outlook for China’s energy demand improves By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sticker reads crude oil on the side of a storage tank in the Permian Basin

By Florence Tan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Monday, with Brent heading towards $ 70 a barrel, with data showing China’s economic recovery accelerated in early 2021, improving the outlook for energy demand from the world’s largest oil importer.

Futures for May gained 47 cents, or 0.7%, to $ 69.69 a barrel at 4:38 a.m. GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude for April was at $ 66.10 a barrel, in up 49 cents, or 0.8%.

China’s industrial production growth accelerated in January-February, beating expectations, while its daily refinery throughput data rose 15% from the same period a year ago, according to the data.

China’s heavy industry has shown robust growth as its production of cement, steel, coal and aluminum saw double-digit growth from 2019 levels before the COVID pandemic, said Seng Yick Tee , analyst at Chinese consulting firm SIA Energy, adding that the growth rates were “insane” given China’s large bases.

The production and transportation of all of these materials requires energy, he said.

In addition, Saudi Arabia, the main oil exporter, reduced the supply of loading crude in April to at least four North Asian buyers by up to 15%, while meeting the normal monthly needs of Indian refiners, have refinery sources told Reuters on Friday.

The supply cuts come as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC +, decided earlier this month to extend most of its cuts. supply until April.

In the United States, the weekly capacity of oil refiners increased by 1.6 million barrels per day, research firm IIR Energy said on Friday, as more factories resume operations in the wake of blackouts during the severe winter storm in Texas last month.

Meanwhile, U.S. energy companies cut the number of oil and platforms in service by one in the first weekly drop since November, according to Baker Hughes Co.

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