Oil prices rise on Middle East tension, global market recovery

29 March, 2018, 01:54 | Author: Martin Tyler
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After opening up over 6% at 9am, the futures contract due for September delivery closed 3.3% up at RMB429.9 ($68.07) per barrel on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange.

Active trading of the yuan-denominated crude contracts in Shanghai could eventually give mainland oil companies and consumers a greater say in pricing the commodity. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures CLc1 fell 30 cents to settle at $65.25 a barrel.

"The rules around trading methodology will be unfamiliar for western houses", said John Browning, chief operating officer of Hong Kong-based futures broker Bands Financial Ltd, which is an approved overseas intermediary for the INE.

Skeptics argue that hurdles such as capital controls, regulatory risk and market intervention in other Chinese securities have made investors cynical about the prospect of Shanghai futures becoming a regional price-setter.

"First-day trading of new contracts was expected to be active, but it was just a first step for China to gain pricing power", said Huang Lei, an independent commodity futures market analyst.

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"As things stand, it is a question of when, not if, the USA withdraws from the agreement and fires a fresh sanctions salvo towards the OPEC nation", Stephen Brennock, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd., wrote about the Iran deal.

While both contracts have been gaining, Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Illinois said Brent has outperformed WTI.

In 2017, the total traded value of ShFE's steel derivatives contracts was $4.4 trillion from domestic investors.

Meanwhile, "a rise in the number of oil rigs drilling for oil also weighed on oil prices", said Kapadia. Chinese trader Unipec told Reuters it was the counterparty for the Glencore deal.

The early involvement of big global players was a morale boost to the fledging market, but state oil majors like PetroChina and Sinopec are expected to provide a significant amount of liquidity in the long term.

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The price of Brent hit $71 per barrel in the middle of January, despite surging production by the United States, which is offset by the production cuts led by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russian Federation.

Chinese authorities have reportedly accelerated the launch amid growing crude imports.

Speculative retail and institutional investors drove much of the launch-day's liquidity, said Chen Tong, Shanghai-based senior crude analyst at First Futures.

WTI is now trading above $64.60.

Brent and WTI, in contrast, were down by that time, weighed down by concerns over a looming US trade dispute with China. Some 18,540 lots have reportedly been sold and purchased so far.

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