China’s import rates, European austerity fuel oil investments

Crude oil futures held steady during the early hours of today’s trading, managing to retain the considerable leads they rallied during the previous day. A strong surge in China’s oil import rates for the month of November provided oil investments with ample support, as did the new agreements by the leaders of the euro zone to tighten fiscal spending and stimulate demand growth.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in January gained 14 cents and settled at $99.55 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil investments in the American contract flourished during Friday’s session, rising more than $1.07, as the economic outlook on the domestic front became increasingly optimistic, and as exports to China grew in numbers.

Brent crude remained largely unchanged, holding at $108.62 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London. The European benchmark commodity oil is still gaining traction from the unravelling disputes in Iran.

China’s energy officials reported that the emerging nation’s crude oil imports for the month of November grew more than 9% to 22.96 million tonnes. Broken down to a daily basis, the figures amount to the second largest volume on record; 5.52 million barrels per day. China’s prolific expansion efforts have been a primary source of support for crude oil throughout the year’s tumult, fielding both crude futures and oil investments with a safety cushion on the sector charts during less clement economic stretches.

Last week’s European Union summit yielded a historically significant treaty between the nations’ leaders, one that focused on tighter fiscal responsibility, and one that Britain, the third largest economy of the region, refused to join. As a result, the country was left isolated from the union.

OPEC’s officials called on some of the more active members of their bloc to cut back on production in order to make room for the return of Libyan crude oil to their ranks.