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Crude futures mixed amid tension in Yemen, reduced U.S. supply concern

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Shutterstock photo - -- Crude futures rose modestly on Monday amid escalating tensions in Yemen and reduced supply concerns in the U.S.

On the New York Mercantile exchange, WTI crude for June delivery rose by more than 0.75 to reach a session-high of 58.63 a barrel before experiencing a mild sell-off just before the close. Texas Light Sweet futures still gained 0.56 or 0.99% to close at 57.89.

On the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), brent crude futures for June delivery peaked above $64 a barrel in European afternoon trading, before falling steadily throughout the session. Brent crude dropped 0.07 or 0.11% in U.S. afternoon trading to settle at 63.52. The spread between international and U.S. domestic benchmarks stood at $5.63

Both WTI and brent crude futures reached a four-month high late last week.

Earlier on Monday, energy data provider Genscape, Inc. said crude stockpiles at the Cushing Oil Hub in Oklahoma rose by 500,000 barrels last week, an increase far below recent weekly buildups. It came days after oil services firm Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) said in its weekly rig count report that the pace of decline among oil rigs nationwide appears to be slowing. Last week, the number of oil rigs in the U.S. fell by 26 to 734 less than three times the pace of decline in mid-February when the rig count fell by more than 80 on consecutive weeks.

The lower than expected buildup has eased concerns that the U.S. could reach full supply capacity before the start of the summer driving season. Traders await the release of the latest supply data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.

In Yemen, dozens were feared dead after Saudi-led airstrikes decimated the capital of Sana. The blasts, which were believed to be the most powerful since Saudi Arabia began an air campaign against Shiite-led Houthi rebels in Yemen last month, reportedly shattered windows miles from the target, according to the New York Times.

While Yemen is not considered a major exporter of oil, it is strategically located on one of the world's largest chokepoints of crude oil. Energy traders are sensitive to any risky geopolitical news involving Saudi Arabia, one of the world's top exporters.

Elsewhere, the People's Bank of China attempted to institute a floor on a two-day sell-off by lowering its reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for banks by 1% from 19.5 to 18.5%. The stimulus measure could release approximately one trillion yuan or $160 billion in liquidity, according to analysts. The sell-off began late last week when the Bank increased the volume of shares available to short sellers by clamping down on margin trading involving over-the-counter stocks.

In December, China's crude oil imports peaked above 7.10 million barrels per day to reach its highest level on record, the Financial Times reported.

The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the strength of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, gained 0.60% to 98.21 in U.S. afternoon trading. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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