Oil rises in thin trade on concerns over US storm impact

By Yuka Obayashi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices rose in light trade on Tuesday on concerns that winter storms across the United States are affecting logistics and production of petroleum products and shale oil.

Brent crude was up 73 cents, or 0.9%, at $84.65 a barrel by 0122 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude was at $80.41 a barrel, up 85 cents, or 1.1%.

On Friday, Brent rose 3.6%, while WTI gained 2.7%. Both benchmarks recorded their biggest weekly gains since October. British and US markets were closed on Monday for the Christmas holiday.

“Fears over supply disruption from winter storms in the US prompted buying, though trade was thin as many market participants were away on holiday,” said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at Fujitomi Securities Co Ltd.

“But the US weather is forecast to improve this week, which means the rally may not last too long,” he said.

A lethal blizzard paralyzed Buffalo, New York, on Christmas Day, trapping motorists and rescue workers in their vehicles, leaving thousands of homes without power and raising the death toll from storms that have chilled much of the United States for days.

Airlines had canceled nearly 2,700 US flights as of Saturday afternoon after the weather snarled airport operations around the country.

Frigid cold and blowing winds on Friday knocked out power and cut energy production across the United States, driving up heating and electricity prices.

Concerns about a possible production cut by Russia were also behind today’s rally.

Russia may cut oil output by 5% to 7% in early 2023 as it responds to price caps, the RIA news agency cited Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak as saying on Friday.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi)

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