Oil Hovers Near 3-week Highs on Middle East Tensions, China Demand

Pump Jacks are seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Pump Jacks are seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
TT

Oil Hovers Near 3-week Highs on Middle East Tensions, China Demand

Pump Jacks are seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Pump Jacks are seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Oil prices edged up on Tuesday, hovering close to three-week highs on heightened Middle East tensions and recovering China demand.

Brent futures ticked up 3 cents to $83.59 a barrel by 0757 GMT.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for April delivery inched up 2 cents to $78.48 a barrel. The March WTI contract rose 24 cents to $79.43 a barrel as traders prepared for that contract to expire during the day. There was no settlement for WTI on Monday due to a US public holiday.

Crude markets were "marginally lower" in "quiet trading over the Presidents' Day holiday in the US and as demand concerns offset ongoing Middle Eastern geopolitical tensions," IG market analyst Tony Sycamore said in a note.

The Iran-aligned Houthis continued their attacks on shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait, with at least four more vessels hit by drone and missile strikes since Friday. One of them, the Belize-flagged, British-registered and Lebanese-managed Rubymar cargo vessel in the Gulf of Aden, was in danger of sinking, Houthis said, raising the stakes in their campaign to disrupt global shipping in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza.

"Signs of stronger demand in China also boosted sentiment," ANZ analysts wrote in a note.

Tourism revenues in China surged 47.3% year-on-year and rose above pre-COVID levels during the national Lunar New Year holiday that ended on Saturday.

China also made a record cut in a benchmark reference rate for mortgages on Tuesday, in a bid to shore up its beleaguered property market and economy.

However, the price-supportive factors did not completely offset demand worries. A bearish International Energy Agency (IEA) report last week revised the 2024 oil demand growth forecast downward on expectations that renewable energy would supplant fossil fuel usage.



World Bank Says 1.8 Mln Additional Ukrainians in Poverty

FILE PHOTO: People queue for meals from World Central Kitchen food truck on a street in Kherson, Ukraine February 22, 2023. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: People queue for meals from World Central Kitchen food truck on a street in Kherson, Ukraine February 22, 2023. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo
TT

World Bank Says 1.8 Mln Additional Ukrainians in Poverty

FILE PHOTO: People queue for meals from World Central Kitchen food truck on a street in Kherson, Ukraine February 22, 2023. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: People queue for meals from World Central Kitchen food truck on a street in Kherson, Ukraine February 22, 2023. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo

The number of Ukrainians living in poverty has grown by 1.8 million since 2020, bringing the total to about 29% of the population as Russia's 2022 invasion continues to ravage the country's economy, the World Bank said in a report.
The situation would be much worse if Ukraine had not received substantial foreign budget support to pay old-age pensions and salaries for teachers, doctors and others, according to Arup Banerji, the World Bank's regional director for Eastern Europe.
"If international partners, especially the US, had not crowded in resources specifically tailored to these social expenditures, then there would have been three million more people in poverty," he told Reuters in an interview.
The World Bank report, based on monthly phone surveys of up to 2,000 households, estimated that some 9 million Ukrainians were living in poverty last year. The country's total population is now estimated to be around 32 million.
The increase in poverty was driven by declining employment, with more than a fifth of adults who were working before the war having lost their jobs, it said.
It noted that nearly one-quarter of Ukrainians surveyed did not have enough money to buy food at some point in June 2023, although a rebound in economic growth and slowing inflation had helped to improve food security in the second half of the year.
Banerji said US passage of fresh Ukraine funding after months of delay was "fantastic" news which would help ensure Ukraine's continued ability to keep up payments for salaries, pensions and social assistance.
The report showed that 85-92% of health clinics in Ukraine were still fully operational in 2023, despite ongoing Russian attacks.
It said at least 89% of children aged 6-18 also remained in school, although in areas facing active hostilities 72% of those students were attending school online.
The survey also showed that 97% of old-age pensions and 85% social assistance transfers were paid on time, a key factor in preventing even more from falling into poverty. Pensions and other social assistance had helped compensate for job losses in vulnerable households, it found.
Banerji said Ukraine's biggest challenge remained security and ending the war, but Ukrainian officials had done a great job running the economy under the circumstances.
"There can be no economic prosperity or economic growth without physical security," he said, adding, "But I've never seen a government that has done so much with so little."