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Oil prices up 1% to 4-week high on big US crude withdrawal, China stimulus

2024 01 24T020713Z 1 LYNXMPEK0N01M RTROPTP 4 GLOBAL OIL - Global Banking | Finance

Oil prices up 1% to 4-week high on big US crude withdrawal, China stimulus

By Scott DiSavino

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Oil prices climbed about 1% to a four-week high on Wednesday on a bigger-than-expected U.S. crude storage withdrawal, a drop in U.S. crude output, Chinese economic stimulus, geopolitical tensions and a weaker U.S. dollar.

Brent futures rose $1.03, or 1.3%, to $80.58 a barrel by 12:03 p.m. EST (1703 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose $1.31, or 1.8%, to $75.68.

Brent was on track for its highest settlement since Dec. 26 and WTI for its highest since Nov. 30. U.S. diesel and U.S. gasoline futures were also headed for their highest closes in weeks.

China’s central bank will cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves from Feb. 5, a move expected to shore up a fragile economic recovery.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said energy firms pulled a much bigger-than-expected 9.2 million barrels of crude from stockpiles during the week ended Jan. 19, more than quadruple the 2.2-million barrel draw analysts forecast in a Reuters poll. [EIA/S] [EIA/A]

“It’s a weather report all-around … Nobody was driving (last week). One big number is domestic production was down, and Bakken production took a big hit,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho, a bank.

U.S. oil output fell from a record-tying 13.3 million barrels per day (bpd) two weeks ago to a five-month low of 12.3 bcfd last week after oil wells froze during an Arctic freeze.

North Dakota state officials have said it could take a month for oil output there to recover after last week’s extreme weather cut production by more than half.

Geopolitical tensions remained in focus the day after a coalition of 24 nations led by the U.S. and UK conducted new strikes against Houthi fighters in Yemen who have been attacking global trade.

The U.S. said Iran-aligned Houthis have mounted 26 attacks since late November on commercial shipping in the Red Sea which was used by about 12% of global oil trade before the attacks.

The U.S. also carried out strikes against Iran-linked militia in Iraq on Tuesday, after an attack on an Iraqi air base wounded U.S. forces.

Elsewhere, tank shells hit a U.N. training centre sheltering tens of thousands of displaced people in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, killing at least nine people and wounding 75, as Israeli forces advanced there.

The U.S. dollar fell to a one-week low against a basket of other currencies. Analysts at energy advisory Ritterbusch and Associates said the weaker dollar was lending some “bullish momentum” to oil prices.

A weaker dollar makes crude cheaper for buyers using other currencies.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino, Laila Kearney, Ahmad Ghaddar, Noah Browning, Colleen Howe and Muyu Xu; Editing by Sharon Singleton, Mark Potter and David Gregorio)

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