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Oil moves higher on Chinese sentiment

IMF's Lagarde said she's impressed by Chinese economic stabilization efforts.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 21, 2016 at 9:57 AM
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NEW YORK, March 21 (UPI) -- Positive sentiments about Chinese economic policy from the International Monetary Fund helped lift crude oil prices in early Monday trading.

Crude oil prices moved lower after oil services company Baker Hughes released data that showed a small level of stability was returning to the exploration and production side of a U.S. energy sector bogged down by weak market conditions. Government forecasts show U.S. crude oil production moving lower, though markets still remain tilted heavily toward the supply side.

Global economies, from the United States to China, are slow to expand fast enough to pull energy markets to balance. Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said from Beijing she was nevertheless impressed with efforts in Beijing to ensure sustainable economic growth.

"China is in the midst of a historic transition aimed at transforming and rebalancing its economy, while delivering economic and environmental sustainability," she said. "This transition is good for China and good for the world."

Crude oil prices returned to positive territory in early Monday trading. Brent crude oil gained 0.7 percent to $41.49 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was up 0.3 percent to $39.56 per barrel in New York.

Oil prices twice moved below $30 per barrel this year amid signs of prolonged glut. A proposal to freeze output at January levels from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia has in part added positive pressure to crude oil prices.

Former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told state news agency Tass he expected crude oil prices to hold around $40 per barrel for 2016.

The Kremlin last week said any major rally for oil prices would encourage investments and push markets more heavily toward the supply side.

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