Oil eases back from 2018 highs above US$70 a barrel

Reuters

A resurgence in risk appetite has helped lift markets from global equities to commodities after a report the Trump administration is to be urging China to lower tariffs as part of talks to resolve rising trade tensions. The global benchmark traded at a $5.06 premium to WTI.

On the other hand, the scholar predicted that once China's futures market becomes "more mature and transparent", the Shanghai oil futures contract will emerge as a full-fledged benchmark for global oil transactions.

Despite a round of profit taking after last week's gains, Brent still remained above the $70 mark on Monday with a showing of $70.20 per barrel, down 25 cents; West Texas Intermediate slipped 33 cents to settle at $65.55 per barrel.

Oil has rallied amid geopolitical tensions and signs that US oil stockpiles are dwindling.

So far, China has opened more than 6,000 trading accounts, including the country's oil majors and about 150 brokerages. Prices assessed at the Shanghai exchange will reflect China's crude supply and demand.

It is more of a game changer for the US.

The regulator "has the confidence, resolution and capability to build a sound crude oil futures market", Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission said at the Shanghai Futures Exchange before trading got under way.

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"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. Chinese trader Unipec told Reuters it was the counterparty for the Glencore deal.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has reported a major surprise build of 5.321 million barrels of US crude oil inventories for the week ending March 23, with the market expected to respond by erasing last week's gains. China imports about 600,000 b/d of Oman crude.

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

The decision to extend the production cuts has seen crude oil prices rising, but a major factor countering efforts by OPEC and Russian Federation is U.S. oil production which has soared and is fast approaching 10 million bpd. "In the long run, yuan crude price will mirror the moves of Brent", he said.

Nearly 30,000 lots of the most-active September contract, had traded, equivalent to about 15 million barrels of crude.

The jump came after Brent futures for May delivery opened above $70 per barrel for the first time since January on expectations OPEC-leader Saudi Arabia may extend supply cuts into 2019, as well as over concern that the United States may re-introduce sanctions against Iran.

At 0316 GMT, Shanghai's September contract was down 1.43 percent at 427.6 yuan ($68.33) per barrel. This is especially important amid the ongoing tariff war between the USA and China.

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