March crude oil spent most of the early morning inside the lower portion of Friday's wide range decline. Some traders indicated that the outside market tone was mixed, with modest gains across most physical commodity markets, fractional weakness in US equity markets and a stronger US Dollar. January trade data out of China overnight showed another contraction in their trade surplus figures, helped by a 51% jump in imports compared to year ago levels, and that was viewed as a positive factor for Chinese domestic demand. The data also showed another near record in crude oil imports for China, estimated at 5.13 million barrels per day. As it currently stands, WTI crude oil faces ample supplies and record levels in Cushing Oklahoma, while Brent appears to be supported on ideas of tighter North Sea supplies. The Commitments of Traders Futures and Options report as of February 8th showed non-commercial traders were net long 235,733 contracts, an increase of 18,739. Non-commercial and nonreportable trades combined held a net long position of 294,534 contracts, an increase of 32,111.
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