Traders watch as Brent crude oil prices pass the $50 per barrel mark at the start of trading Tuesday in New York. (UPI Photo/Monika Graff) | License Photo
NEW YORK, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- European support for Greek economic recovery and industry sentiments of upward momentum helped lift crude oil prices in early Tuesday trading.
West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude oil prices, moved up about seven tenths of a percent in early trading Tuesday to $46.62 per barrel. Brent crude oil prices rallied 1.5 percent to $50.03 per barrel.
Crude oil prices started edging up last week after Russian military forces entered the conflict in Syria on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. government said Russia was operating from a position of weakness as sanctions and low oil prices diminished its economic clout.
Oil prices are down by about half from their mid-2014 levels because markets are favoring the supply side. North American and Middle East production is ramping up at a time when global economic trends show lackluster recovery.
Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden told conference-goers in London the oil industry was showing more resiliency than expected.
"I see the first mixed signs for a recovery in oil prices," he said in a statement.
Low oil prices means less cash for investment in exploration and production. That trend was reflected last week when oil services company Baker Hughes reported U.S. rig counts were at a five-year low, suggesting the markets may be pulling away from the supply side.
For the global economy, the International Monetary Fund estimates economies like Russia, which depend heavily on oil and gas revenue, could contract by an average 1 percent through the two years ending in 2017. For consumer nations, however, there will be benefits.
The European Commission said it welcomed a vote by members of the European Parliament in favor of a Greek growth plan. Summer concerns over Greek debt added downward pressure to crude oil prices.
"EU funding can play a vital role in injecting investment directly into the real economy, if targeted wisely and used to its full potential," Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Union's vice president for regional dialogue, said in a statement.