Oil gains on tight supply as US driving season looms

A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, US June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo

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LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) – Oil prices rose slightly on Monday, supported by US fuel demand, tight supply and a lack of progress towards a European ban on Russian oil, as Shanghai prepares to reopen after a two-month coronavirus lockdown that fueled economic growth fears.

Extending last week’s small gains, Brent crude futures rose 53 cents, or 0.5%, to $113.08 a barrel by 1345 GMT while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude 34 cents, or 0.3%, to $110.62.

“Oil prices are supported as gasoline markets remain tight amide solid demand heading into the peak US driving season,” said SPI Asset Management Managing Partner Stephen Innes.

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“Refineries are typically in ramp-up mode to feed US drivers’ unquenching thirst at the pump.”

The US peak driving season traditionally begins on Memorial Day weekend at the end of May and ends on Labor Day in September.

Despite fears over soaring fuel prices potentially denting demand, analysts said that mobility data from TomTom and Google had climbed in recent weeks, showing more people were on the roads in places such as the United States.

Meanwhile, Hungary continues to hold out against a proposed European Union ban on Russian oil imports over its invasion of Ukraine, ensuring no sudden shock to supply for now. read more

Market gains have been also been capped by concerns about China’s efforts to crush COVID-19 with lockdowns, even with Shanghai due to reopen on June 1.

Lockdowns in China, the world’s top oil importer, have hammered industrial output and construction, prompting moves to prop up the economy, including a bigger than expected mortgage rate cut last Friday. read more

“The persistent squeeze in refined petroleum products in the US and ever-present Ukraine/Russia risk underpinned prices, with China slowdown and US recession noise limiting gains,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA.

The European Union’s inability to reach a final agreement on banning Russian oil after its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”, has also stopped oil prices from climbing much higher. read more

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Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Mohi Narayan in New Delhi Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and David Goodman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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