U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark crude oil futures hit their highest levels since February 5 early Monday, underpinned by comments from Saudi Arabia that it would continue to curb exports in addition to its production cuts, designed to trim the global supply and stabilize prices.
At 1050 GMT, April WTI crude oil is trading $63.56, up $0.01 or +0.01% and April Brent crude oil is at $67.31, unchanged for the session. Earlier in the session, WTI reached $63.90 and Brent touched $67.58.
Crude oil prices are also being supported by a rise in global equity markets, suggesting increased demand for risky assets. Some traders noted, however, that the rally was struggling due to worries over U.S. crude production, which is near record highs.
According to CNBC, prices were supported after Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid al-Falih on Saturday said the country’s oil production in January-March would be well below output caps, with exports averaging below 7 million barrels per day (bpd).
In other news, U.S. energy companies last week added one oil rig, the fifth weekly increase in a row, bringing the total count up to 799, the highest level since April 2015, Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday.
Additionally, hedge funds and money managers upped their bullish wagers on U.S. crude oil for the first time in four weeks, data showed on Friday.
Prices are likely to remain underpinned by the supportive talk from Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid al-Falih and reports that Libya’s National Oil Corp. had declared force majeure on the 70,000 bpd El Feel oilfield after a protest by guards closed the field late last week.
Increased demand for higher risk assets and a weaker U.S. Dollar should also provide support. The news that the hedge funds have returned to the market in a bullish way is also a strong indication that after a month-long setback, the markets may be setting up to make another run at this year’s multi-year highs.