Oil prices gain 2 pct, on strong US, China services sector growth

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Strong economic data from China and the United States helped to lift oil prices by 2 percent on Tuesday, recouping some of the previous session’s losses.

Brent gained $1.11, or 1.8 percent, to $63.26 a barrel by 11:53 am EDT (1553 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose $1.16, or 2 percent, to $59.81 a barrel.

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Prices were buoyed as March data showed US services activity touched a record high. China’s service sector has also gathered steam with the sharpest increase in sales in three months.

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In addition, England is set to ease more coronavirus restrictions on April 12, allowing businesses including all shops, gyms, hair salons and outdoor hospitality venues to reopen.

The market is recovering from steep losses on Monday, when both oil price benchmarks fell by about $3 on Monday because of increasing OPEC+ oil supply and rising COVID-19 infections in India and parts of Europe.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, known as OPEC+, agreed last week to bring back 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) of supply in May, another 350,000 bpd in June and a further 400,000 bpd or so in July.

“Although OPEC+ went against what most market participants and its own research team thought, raising its oil output significantly over the next three months, the market is now signaling that it is OK with it and is ready to benefit from the lack of uncertainty that a month-to-month update would have brought,” said Louise Dickson, Rystad Energy’s oil markets analyst.

Coronavirus-related deaths worldwide crossed 3 million on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, as the global resurgence of infections challenges vaccination efforts around the globe.

New restrictions in Europe also weighed on prices.

“This will likely raise concerns over demand, given that, at the moment, a large part of the constructive outlook for the oil market is based on the assumption that we see a strong demand recovery over the second half of this year,” ING analyst Warren Patterson said.

Investors are also focusing on indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, which could lead to Washington lifting sanctions on Iran’s energy sector.

Goldman Sachs said any potential recovery in Iranian oil exports would not be a shock to the market, and full recovery would not occur until summer 2022.

Read more: IMF sees stronger global growth as some COVID-19 clouds begin to clear

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