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24 April 2024

Year of the Monkey: Crude oil prices swing up again

By Agencies

Crude oil futures inched up on Monday in thin trade as many Asian markets were on holiday for the Lunar New Year of the Monkey, with few trading cues expected until Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gives testimony to lawmakers later in the week.

Global benchmark Brent futures were up 9 cents at $34.157 at 0403 GMT (8.03am UAE time). They fell 40 cents to $34.06 a barrel on Friday.

US crude futures were also up 9 cents at $30.98, after falling 83 cents to $30.89 on Friday.

Both contracts had dropped slightly earlier on Monday in seesaw trade on low volumes.

“The strength we saw in the middle of last week has not been completely overturned but the direction has reversed,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

The market is looking forward to Yellen's testimony on Wednesday along with US crude inventory levels the same day, Spooner said.

“We are on hold, waiting for that with a nervous tone.”

A meeting between Opec producers Saudi Arabia and Venezuela on Sunday to discuss coordination on prices ended with few signs there would be steps taken to boost prices.

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi talked about cooperation between Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries members and other oil producers to stabilise the global oil market with his Venezuelan counterpart, but there was no agreement to hold an early meeting of suppliers.

Venezuela's Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino, who is on a tour of oil producers to lobby for action to prop up prices, said his meeting with Naimi was "productive".

The prospect of a supply restraint helped oil prices rise from 12-year lows last month, even though there was widespread scepticism that a deal would happen.