By David Hodari
Oil prices hit a three-month high Friday amid ebbing uncertainty around U.S.-China trade and Brexit.
Brent, the global oil benchmark, rose 1.6% to $65.22, while U.S. crude futures rose 1.5% to $60.07.
Oil's move higher began Thursday as President Trump suggested the U.S. was close to a trade deal with China, and continued after the White House agreed to a limited agreement that would roll back existing tariff rates on Chinese goods and cancel new levies that had been set to take effect Sunday.
"It was President Trump's tweet about getting very close to a trade deal with China that sparked a broader market rally," Helge André Martinsen, senior oil market analyst at DNB Markets.
The price rise pushed Brent crude to its highest level since the days after the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil processing facilities that temporarily took out 5% of global supply almost three months ago.
Uncertainty around trade has weighed on global economic growth in recent months, prompting both the International Energy Agency and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to slash their oil-demand growth estimates over the course of this year.
Still, OPEC said Wednesday that the "global trade slowdown has likely bottomed out," while the IEA mirrored that view Thursday. "The deterioration in trade and industrial activity seen in recent months may have come to an end at the start of 4Q19," the agency said
Investors' increased optimism buoyed stocks and commodities and was compounded early Friday by a comprehensive election victory for U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The ruling Conservative Party's strong majority provides greater certainty as to the timing of the country's exit the European Union.
Market participants said policy signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve were also supporting oil futures.
Policy signals from the Federal Reserve, President Trump's apparent moves toward a trade deal with China and the alleviation of Brexit uncertainty are also supporting oil futures, said Edward Marshall, commodities trader at Global Risk Management.
The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, fell 0.1%. That makes dollar-denominated oil is less expensive for other currency holders.
Despite a combination of bearish U.S. oil inventory data and forecasts for stubborn oil gluts in early 2020 so far this week, Friday's gains mean Brent crude and U.S. crude have risen 4.5% and 8.9% respectively so far this month.
Both benchmarks received a boost last week when OPEC and its allies completed a new production deal to deepen cuts by a total of 1.7 million barrels a day to last through the end of March.
The impending change in the amount of sulfur allowed in marine fuel oil, known as 'IMO 2020', due to take effect at the end of the month was also boosting Brent and U.S. crude prices, with lower sulfur fuel tending to be taken from sweeter crude oil varieties.
"There's also some repricing happening from the IMO regulation on low sulfur fuels which is impacting Brent and WTI because they both have a sweet bias," said Frank Monkam, crude oil trader at Gunvor Group.
Anna Hirtenstein contributed to this article.
Write to David Hodari at David.Hodari@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 13, 2019 18:12 ET (23:12 GMT)
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