Oil made small gains as Lunar New Year festivities in China drove increased demand while Russian exports shrank  — both boosting prices Monday morning.

West Texas Intermediate edged above US$82 a barrel, continuing a streak of gains that brought it to the highest close since mid-November on Friday. Still, a strengthening dollar restrained crude’s climb.

Oil has shaken off a weak start to 2023 as the end of China’s COVID-Zero policies have prompted the world’s largest oil importer to boost its import quotas and prompted analysts to raise their projections for demand. Expectations that the Federal Reserve is close to ending its series of aggressive rate hikes have also buoyed prices.

Crude markets also were bolstered by several measures of technical strength. Brent futures crossed above their 100-day moving average for the first time since November, which could spur more buyers to enter the market. Meanwhile, net bullish bets on Brent futures surged to a two-month high last week.


  • WTI for March delivery rose 76 cents to US$82.40 at 11:06 a.m. in New York.
  • Brent for March settlement rose US$1.32 to US$88.95 a barrel.

Russia’s seaborne crude exports dropped last week, contributing to the smallest inflow into the country’s coffers since Moscow sent its forces into Ukraine. Moscow is set to publish a decree detailing a ban on Russian firms selling oil to clients adhering to a price cap, Kommersant said.

Further restrictions on Russian energy flows are due to kick in early next month as the war in Ukraine grinds on. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed confidence at the weekend that curbs on Russian crude sales can be expanded to refined products.