Crude closed at the highest in seven weeks as Saudi Arabia said it would work with other producers to curb market fluctuations and China’s central bank stepped up efforts to support the economy.
West Texas Intermediate oil increased 3 percent. Saudi Arabia wants a stable oil market, according to state-run Saudi Press Agency. China reduced the amount of cash the nation’s lenders must lock away. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reduced production by 79,000 barrels a day this month, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Prices slipped to a 12-year low on Feb. 11 in New York amid speculation a worldwide surplus will be prolonged with U.S. crude stockpiles at the highest level in more than eight decades and the outlook for increased exports from Iran. A proposal to freeze output by Saudi Arabia and Russia is achievable and prices may rise to as high as $50 a barrel by the end of the year, Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu told CNBC.
WTI for April delivery rose 97 cents to $33.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the highest close since Jan. 6. Prices advanced 0.4 percent in February, the first monthly gain since October.
Brent for April settlement increased 87 cents, or 2.5 percent, before expiring at $35.97 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Brent closed at a $2.22 premium to WTI, after reaching an 11-week high of $2.86 on Feb. 26. The more-active May contract climbed 3.2 percent to $36.57.