© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Storage tanks are seen at Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles Refinery, which processes domestic & imported crude oil into California Air Resources Board (CARB) gasoline, CARB diesel fuel, and other petroleum products, in Carson, California, US
By Alex Lawler
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil hit a three-week high on Tuesday as China’s latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions spurred hopes of a fuel demand recovery, with further support coming from cuts to US energy production caused by winter storms.
China will stop requiring inbound travelers to go into quarantine, starting from Jan. 8, the National Health Commission said on Monday in a major step towards easing curbs on borders that have been largely shut since 2020.
was up 56 cents, or 0.7%, at $84.48 a barrel at 1240 GMT and US West Texas Intermediate crude gained 35 cents, or 0.4%, to $79.91. Both benchmarks hit their highest since Dec. 5 earlier in the session.
“This is certainly something that traders and investors have been hoping for,” Avatrade analyst Naeem Aslam said of China’s plan over the quarantine rule.
UK and US markets had been closed on Monday for Christmas holidays.
Equities gained while the US dollar softened on Tuesday in response to the Chinese move. A weaker dollar makes oil cheaper for holders of other currencies and tends to support risk assets.
Oil also drew support from worries over supply disruption due to winter storms in the United States, said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at Fujitomi Securities.
“But the US weather is forecast to improve this week, which means the rally may not last too long,” he said.
As of Friday, some 1.5 million barrels of daily refining capacity along the US Gulf Coast was shut down, while oil and gas output from North Dakota to Texas suffered freeze-ins, cutting supply.
Concern over a possible production cut by Russia also provided price support.
Russia might cut oil output by 5% to 7% in early 2023 if it responds to price caps, the RIA news agency cited Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak as saying on Friday.