March 19 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices rose early Tuesday to a new year-to-date high, continuing gains from the previous session as investors appeared to show optimism ahead of news on inventories and interest rates.
West Texas Intermediate front-month crude futures traded at $59.78 per barrel, or 0.7 percent higher, as of 8:24 a.m. EST. Brent futures traded at $68.14 per barrel, or 0.9 percent higher, as of the same time.
"The markets spiked to the upside on the news that OPEC on Monday canceled its planned meeting in April and this effectively meant they were extending the current supply production cuts into at least June, when the next meeting is scheduled," FXEmpire analyst James Hyerczyk wrote in a report.
WTI closed Monday at $59.38 per barrel, then its highest price for the year, compared with a Friday closing of $58.52 per barrel. WTI prices have increased from levels under $43 per barrel during late-December trading.
Brent closed Monday at $67.54 per barrel. It reached a high for the year on Wednesday at $67.55 per barrel, just one cent higher.
"There were no fresh supply/demand developments early Tuesday although one gets the sense that traders may be turning a little positive," Hyerczyk added.
Traders and investors will also be alert to the outlook for changes in interest rates, with attention to the Federal Open Committee meeting scheduled for this week.
"Energy markets are grinding higher over the past few days. Energy markets will be looking at the upcoming Fed meeting," Tariq Zahir, managing member of investor advisory firm Tyche Capital Advisors, told UPI.
An increase in interest rates could make the U.S. dollar more expensive and eventually curb demand.
Separately, Ilya Spivak, analyst at Daily FX, said traders and investors will be alert to inventory data to be released by the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday, and then by the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.
Spivak wrote that the new inventory information with the latest data "will be judged against bets on a modest 632,000 inflow expected to be reported in official EIA statistics later in the week."