Oil prices find support in trade talks, Middle East tensions

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The listed futures for trading are contracts to be delivered from September this year to March 2019.

They mainly trade higher-quality light sweet crude oil, while the yuan contracts on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange involve mainly medium-sour crude.

As of 9.30 am this morning, the contract for delivery in September opened at 440.20 yuan (US$69.70) a barrel, an increase of more than 6 percent, and nearly 25 million barrels changed hands in the first 25 minutes of trading.

Allowing foreign investors to trade the futures directly is a first for China's commodity markets.

The new contracts are "rooted in China's ambition to increase its bargaining power to price energy supplies amidst an increasing reliance on oil imports", energy industry information provider ICIS said in a research note. China imports about 600 kb/d of Oman crude. In the longer term, the futures exchange will enable China's crude-buying patterns to become more transparent to the world, says Gupta.

WTI futures listed on an exchange in NY and Brent Crude futures listed on a London exchange are global benchmarks.

"Glencore's first bid reflected the high participation and enthusiasm of foreign traders for Chinese crude oil futures", said Yang Xidong, general manager of Xinhu Futures Co Ltd.

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The country also hopes that yuan-denominated futures contracts will help its currency play a bigger role in the global economy.

The early involvement of big worldwide traders was a morale boost to the fledging market, but state oil majors like PetroChina and Sinopec are expected to provide a significant amount of liquidity in the long-term.

Chinese online newspaper Global Times specified that the Shanghai yuan-denominated crude futures were traded Monday "at 429.9 yuan ($68.30) a barrel for September by the end of the trading day at 3 pm (GMT+8), slightly down from 440 yuan at the start of trading, but still above the preset reference point of 416 yuan by 3.34 percent".

Speculative retail and institutional investors also propped up the launch-day's liquidity, said Chen Tong, Shanghai-based senior crude analyst at First Futures.

FBN's Jeff Flock talks to PRICE Futures Group's Phil Flynn about the prediction that the US could soon become the largest oil producer in the world. This is especially important amid the ongoing tariff war between the United States and China.

Chinese exchanges count each side of a trade - the buy and the sell - as two lots, meaning the total oil changing hands was 20,328 lots, equal to 20.3 million barrels.

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