Oil rises on U.S. stimulus optimism, OPEC supply cuts

An aerial view of a crude oil storage facility is seen on May 5, 2020 in Cushing, Oklahoma.
JOHANNES EISELE | AFP via Getty Images

Oil prices edged higher on Monday as optimism around U.S. stimulus plans and some supply concerns boosted futures, but demand worries prompted by coronavirus lockdowns limited gains.

Brent crude futures rose 31 cents to $55.72 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude settled 50 cents, or 0.96%, higher at $52.77 per barrel.

Officials in U.S. President Joe Biden's administration on a Sunday call with Republican and Democratic lawmakers tried to head off Republican concerns that his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal was too expensive.

"In the U.S., newly inaugurated President Biden seems to be pushing for a quick approval of his proposed $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, a development interpreted by the market as a clear indication that the new U.S. administration aims to kick-start an economic recovery, which will naturally benefit fuel consumption," said Bjornar Tonhaugen, Rystad Energy's head of oil markets.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies' compliance with pledged oil output curbs is averaging 85% so far in January, tanker tracker Petro-Logistics said on Monday, suggesting the group had improved its adherence to pledged supply curbs.

Other supply concerns have offered some support. Indonesia said its coast guard seized an Iranian-flagged tanker over suspected illegal fuel transfers, raising the prospect of more tensions in the oil-exporting Gulf.

Output from Kazakhstan's giant Tengiz field was disrupted by a power outage on Jan. 17.

Meanwhile, European nations have imposed tough restrictions to halt the spread of the virus, while China reported a rise in new COVID-19 cases, casting a pall over demand prospects in the world's largest energy consumer.

Barclays raised its 2021 oil price forecasts, but said rising cases in China could contribute to near-term pullbacks.