Oil futures finished little changed Monday, down by just pennies, after ending last week at their highest since November. Oil bulls have been “drawing strength from rising demand hopes as China’s economy re-opens, while a softer dollar seems to be supporting upside gains,” said Lukman Otunuga, manager, market analysis at FXTM. U.S. benchmark oil prices may push higher “not only because of China’s improving outlook, but expectations around the [Federal Reserve] toning down its pace of rate hikes.” When factoring the pending restrictions on Russian oil that are due to commence in February, “the dynamics remain in favor of bulls, with $85 acting as the next key level of interest,” he said. The European Union’s ban on imports of Russian oil products begins on Feb. 5. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery CLH23 fell 2 cents to settle at $81.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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