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Oil starts the year higher on optimism in trade and Middle East tensions

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Oil prices kicked off the new year higher on Thursday, as concerns over demand eased thanks to improved trade ties between the United States and China, while escalating tensions in the Middle East fueled concerns about supply.

By 0738 GMT, Brent crude futures were up 35 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $ 66.35 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose 25 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $ 61.31.

Oil markets were closed on Wednesday, on the occasion of the new year.

Both raw materials sealed 2019 high, and recorded their biggest annual gains since 2019, supported at the end of the year by a breakthrough in the long-standing trade dispute between the United States and China – the world’s two largest economies – and a deeper cut in production pledged by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies.

“The oil remains supported by the effects of the trade truce and the escalation of political unrest in Iraq,” said Stephen Ines, chief analyst of the Asian market at Axitrader.

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