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Brent prices remained steady today, supported by strong equity markets that helped balance apprehensions about a crude stockpile build up for an eighth straight week in the US and a rise in demand for oil in China.

Brent crude was steady at $110.13 a barrel, after slipping by nine cents, while US oil rose by eight cents to $92.14, reported Reuters.

On Monday, Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index increased for a seventh straight session and reached its highest intraday level since October 2007, whereas the Dow Jones industrial average reached a record 14,447.29.

Based on initial government data, calculations by Reuters showed that demand in January rose by 8.6% on the year to about 10.43 million bpd, as oil firms refilled stocks before the New Year.

According to a Reuters poll, US crude inventories jumped by 2.4 million barrels in the week to 8 March.

"On Monday, Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index increased for a seventh straight session."

Prices also received support from Chinese data, which showed that oil demand in the country jumped to 4.9% to about 10.14 million barrels per day (bpd) in February, compared to the previous year, with support coming in the from of increased crude production by refineries.

Oil prices came under pressure after Sudan and South Sudan decided to recommence the flow of southern oil exports through pipelines in Sudan within two weeks.

South Sudan, which broke away from Sudan in July 2011, closed its 350,000 barrel-per-day output in January 2012, in a disagreement with Khartoum over fees.

On the other hand, Iran’s crude export in March is expected to fall by a quarter from a month earlier to the lowest it has been recorded since sanctions came into effect in 2012.

Iran’s customers will have to load 810,000 bpd, compared to about 1.1 million bpd in February.


Image: In January, demand rose by 8.6% on the year to about 10.43 million bpd. Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos / Victor Habbick.

Energy