Oil rises on U.S.-China hopes, improved demand outlook

Workers extracting oil from oil wells in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas on May 5, 2018.
Benjamin Lowy | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Oil prices rose on Monday, buoyed by an improved outlook for crude demand as better-than-expected U.S. jobs growth added to market hopes a preliminary U.S.-China trade deal would be reached this month.

Brent crude futures gained 47 cents to settle at $62.17 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate gained 34 cents or 0.6% to settle at $56.54.

Both benchmarks traded near the highest in more than a month as market optimism about progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations propelled U.S. stock indexes to record highs on Monday, elevating oil. Energy shares gained the most of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump have been in continuous touch through "various means," China said on Monday, when asked when and where the two leaders might meet to sign a trade deal.

"Both sides (China and the United States) are talking up the trade deal to a large degree. And you have the Federal Reserve leaning into this better-looking economic situation, which lifts all boats," said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC.

On Friday, prices jumped by about $2 a barrel after U.S. officials said a deal could be signed this month.

Improved U.S. jobs growth numbers in October and the upward revisions of the two previous months, reported on Friday, also eased fears of a global economic slowdown that would slow crude demand, oil-market analysts said.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 128,000 jobs last month, U.S. Labor Department data showed. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls rising by 89,000 jobs in October. The economy also created 95,000 more jobs in August and September than previously estimated.

Federal Reserve's interest rate cut last week and recent weakness in the U.S. dollar has also helped lift prices, analysts said. Demand for crude oil, which is traded in U.S. dollars, typically strengthens when the dollar weakens.

"Easing monetary policy, along with improved chances of a U.S.-China trade deal, is pushing up oil markets. (Expectations of) improved demand is lifting prices," said Phillip Streible, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

Hedge funds have started to rebuild long positions in crude and fuels.

Capping gains, U.S. crude oil inventories were forecast to have risen by 2.7 million barrels last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed ahead of weekly data on Wednesday.

But last week's shutdown of TC Energy Corp's 590,000 barrel-per-day Keystone pipeline, a main artery for Canadian heavy crude imports into the United States, following a 9,000-barrel oil spill, could impact the data.

The shutdown could have caused supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for U.S. futures, to have risen only slightly or even decline, which would soften the impact should data show an overall crude build, said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.