March 15, 2019 - 9:56 AM EDT
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Oil prices volatile after reaching high for this year

March 15 (UPI) --

Crude oil future prices were volatile Friday morning after reaching highs for the year earlier this week, with the immediate focus remaining on potential geopolitical supply issues.

West Texas Intermediate prices rose 0.4 percent to $58.83 per barrel as of 8:16 a.m. EST, with Brent rising 0.5 percent to $ 67.53 per barrel as of the same time.

As of 8:26 a.m. WTI traded 0.6 percent lower at $58.28 per barrel while Brent traded 0.7 percent lower to $66.74 per barrel.

WTI reached its highest level this year on Thursday, when it traded at $58.61, compared with $58.26 per barrel on Wednesday, the previous record high for the year. Brent reached a record high for this year on Wednesday, but softened on Thursday.

Oil is poised to move higher amid potential supply shocks. WTI has reached a new swing high of $58.95 per barrel Friday morning after OPEC announced it will stay committed to supply cuts until the June OPEC meeting, Amir Hekmati, trader at TradeFlow, told UPI.

My bias is to the upside presently with $60-63 per barrel being reached sometime in April, he added.

One key factor that would greatly influence the market is a decision by the U.S. not to renew waivers for buyers of Iranian crude oil, once waivers to nuclear-related sanctions expire in May.

The U.S. imposed nuclear related sanctions against Iran in May, which led prices to increase in the following months until October on anticipation of reduced supply. However, the U.S. suddenly announced waivers on Nov. 5, leading to new concerns about oversupply and to plunges in crude prices until the end of last year.

Additionally, news in Venezuela continues to worsen, and production is plummeting amid an electric power outage that has crippled the country, Hekmati added.

Crude oil prices have increased from lows of under $43 per barrel in the case of WTI in late December. They are down compared to highs on Oct. 3, when WTI traded at over $76 per barrel.

Source: United Press International (March 15, 2019 - 9:56 AM EDT)

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