Crude oil steady near 1-week high amid China policy hopes

CommoditiesAug 12, 2013 03:57AM ET - Crude oil futures held steady near a one-week high on Monday, amid hopes policy makers in Beijing will introduce fresh stimulus measures to boost growth in the world’s second largest economy.

Gains were limited as ongoing uncertainty over the future of the Federal Reserve's stimulus program continued to weigh.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in September traded at USD106.02 a barrel during European morning trade, up 0.05%.

Oil futures were likely to find support at USD103.63 a barrel, Friday’s low and resistance at USD107.23 a barrel, the high from August 6.

The September contract settled up 2.5% at USD105.97 a barrel on Friday after upbeat economic data out of China alleviated fears over a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy.

Official data showed that Chinese industrial output rose significantly more-than-forecast in July, while consumer price inflation remained unchanged.

Market sentiment received a further boost after Hong Kong daily newspaper South China Morning Post reported earlier that Beijing was “quietly offering financial stimulus” to key cities and provinces to support economic growth.

China is the world's second largest oil consumer after the U.S. and has been the engine of strengthening demand.

The Asian nation imported 26.11 million metric tons of crude oil in July, 20% more than the same period last year.

Oil traders were looking ahead to Tuesday’s U.S. retail sales report, as well as speeches by senior Federal Reserve officials later in the week, amid ongoing speculation over how soon the Fed may start to pull back its asset purchase program.

Investors have closely been looking out for U.S. data reports recently to gauge if they will strengthen or weaken the case for the Fed to reduce its bond purchases.

Any improvement in the U.S. economy was likely to reinforce the view that the central bank will begin to taper its bond purchase program in the coming months.

The Fed’s stimulus program is viewed by many investors as a key driver in boosting the price of commodities as it tends to depress the value of the dollar.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for September delivery inched down 0.45% to trade at USD107.72 a barrel, with the spread between the Brent and crude contracts standing at USD1.70 a barrel.

Crude oil steady near 1-week high amid China policy hopes

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