Oil prices rose on Tuesday after strong Chinese import data, while Middle East tensions gave only a limited boost given no crude supply has been disrupted so far.
Brent crude oil futures were up 67 cents, or 1%, at $63.95 a barrel by 1221 GMT, while U.S. crude oil futures gained 61 cents, or 1%, to $60.31 a barrel. Both contracts have recorded changes of less than 1% for four straight sessions.
China’s exports grew at a robust pace in March in yet another boost to the nation’s economic recovery, as global demand picked up amid progress in COVID-19 vaccinations. Import growth surged to the highest in four years.
Crude oil imports into China jumped 21% in March from a low base a year earlier as refiners ramped up operations.
OPEC in its monthly report on Tuesday raised its forecast for 2021 oil demand growth by 70,000 barrels to 5.95 million barrels per day (bpd), or 6.6%.
Also supporting prices, U.S. crude oil stockpiles were expected to have fallen last week for a third straight week, while distillate and gasoline inventories likely grew, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.
Still, U.S. oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise for a third straight month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Monday.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement said on Monday it had fired 17 drones and two ballistic missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia, including Saudi Aramco facilities in Jubail and Jeddah.
Meanwhile, Tehran has said an explosion on Sunday at its key nuclear site was an act of sabotage by arch-foe Israel and vowed revenge.
“The rise in geopolitical tension will only have a notable bullish impact on oil prices if it is coupled with actual physical supply disruption,” PVM analysts said in a note.
The slow rate of vaccinations in Europe and anticipation of additional supply of oil from Iran in the coming months capped price gains.