Crude Oil Rises in Holiday-Constrained Trade

Markets Reuters

Crude oil futures rose on Monday in thin trade as many Asian markets were on holiday for Lunar New Year, with few trading cues expected until Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gives testimony to lawmakers later in the week.

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Global benchmark Brent futures were up 17 cents at $34.23 at 0751 GMT. They fell 40 cents to $34.06 a barrel on Friday.

U.S. crude futures rose 18 cents to $31.07, after falling 83 cents to $30.89 on Friday.

Both contracts had dropped slightly earlier on Monday in see-saw trade on low volumes.

"The strength we saw in the middle of last week has not been completely overturned but the direction has reversed," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

The market is looking forward to Yellen's testimony on Wednesday along with U.S. crude inventory levels the same day, Spooner said.

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"We are on hold, waiting for that with a nervous tone."

A meeting between OPEC producers Saudi Arabia and Venezuela on Sunday to discuss coordination on prices ended with few signs there would be steps taken to boost prices.

Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali al-Naimi talked about cooperation between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil producers to stabilise the global oil market with his Venezuelan counterpart, but there was no agreement to hold an early meeting of suppliers.

Venezuela's Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino, who is on a tour of oil producers to lobby for action to prop up prices, said his meeting with Naimi was "productive".

The prospect of a supply restraint helped oil prices rise from 12-year lows last month, even though there was widespread scepticism that a deal would happen.

 

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Joseph Radford and Subhranshu Sahu)