The crude oil price moved closer to its lowest levels in 2018

For representational purposes

For representational purposes

China imported a record volume of crude oil and the second-highest amount of natural gas in January, data showed on Thursday, on a surge in refinery buying and spiking heating demand from consumers in the world's largest energy user. Oil is also being buffeted by "ripple effects from the risk-off move in equity markets".

USA oil shipments to China have surged, creating trade between the world's two biggest powers that until 2016 just did not exist, and helping Washington in its effort to reduce the nation's huge trade deficit with China.

As prices have risen in the past year, production has jumped in non-OPEC countries such as Canada and the United States.

United States oil output increased for a fourth week, the Energy Information Administration data showed yesterday.

Brent crude has lost around 8 per cent in value since reaching a 4-year high to above United States dollars 71 per barrel in late January. Both factors are likely to drive up global supplies. While equity markets are clawing back on calls to 'buy the dip, ' crude's advance is being driven by industry data that showed an unexpected decrease in U.S. stockpiles.

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The EIA has raised its crude price forecast by US$3 a barrel for 2018 and expects the global supply and demand balance to be unchanged in 2019. The European Commission on Wednesday reported that combined gross domestic product for the countries that use the euro currency, and other member states, grew 2.4 percent previous year. "Morgan Stanley falls in the middle, predicting that Brent will occasionally touch $70-75 in the first half of this year, stabilizing around $75 a barrel in the third quarter", according to OilPrice.com. Nationwide crude stockpiles in the previous week added 6.78 million barrels, the biggest gain in barrel terms in nearly 11 months. Higher output could undercut prices, analysts said, noting that official estimates for US production gains were recently increased.

Despite the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russian Federation cutting production in order to tighten the market, crude remains in ample supply. Over those five years, Russian Federation and Brazil significantly boosted their market shares on the Chinese market, with Russia's rising to 14 percent from 9 percent, and Brazil's imports went to 5 percent from 2 percent.

The UAE produced around 2.87 million bpd of crude oil in January, in line with its production quota under the OPEC supply cut deal.

Financial markets sank on Monday after a sharp rise in US bond yields raised concern over a possible increase in inflation and potentially higher interest rates.

But US producers have already far outpaced expectations and overcome serious challenges, including the recent effort by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to sink shale firms by flooding global markets with oil.

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