April 24 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices got support early Monday from the weekend results of the first round of French presidential elections, which could be a test for the EU.
Crude oil prices were losing ground in the waning sessions of April as investors shifted their attention from early concerns about tensions in the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula back toward market fundamentals.
An agreement by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit production lifted crude oil prices out of a downward trend in early 2016, but has led to gains in U.S. crude oil production as commercial prospects improve. On Friday, oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported the fifth-straight week for gains in exploration and production activity in North America.
Prospects of an extension to OPEC-led production cuts and the results of Sunday's first round of voting have led to early bullish sentiments for oil prices. In a May 7 runoff, Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister and ally to a united European Union, faces off against Marine Le Pen, whose policies align more with populist U.S. President Donald Trump and British leaders in favor of leaving the EU.
Tamas Varga, an analyst with the broker PVM, said in a daily newsletter the French stock market was up more than 3 percent in response to the weekend's voting, especially given Macron's stance on the EU.
"A safe EU is bullish for the common currency which, in turn, supports oil," he wrote.
Crude oil was moving in volatile territory overnight, rebounding from a 2 percent slump to a 1 percent gain in the hours before trading began in New York. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was up 0.3 percent to $52.12 per barrel a half hour before Wall Street opened. West Texas Intermediate opened higher than Friday's close by 0.26 percent at $49.75 per barrel.
Traders could focus on lingering or future supply issues as OPEC leaders prepare for the next meeting on the production deal in May.
Iran, which is exempt from the OPEC agreement so it can regain a market share lost to sanctions, said its position on the global stage could move higher because of new reserves in the Persian Gulf. Production could be influenced elswhere by ongoing political unrest in Venezuela, a fellow OPEC member.
Outside the production group, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said the latest results from an appraisal well in the Edvard Grieg oil field in the North Sea could lead to an increase in the reserve estimate by as much as 30 million barrels of recoverable oil.
Apart from Russia, Norway is a lead oil and gas supplier to the European economy.