Oil above $56 on U.S. stimulus hopes ahead of Biden inauguration

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 23 cents, or 0.4%, to $53.21 a barrel

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. General view shows Mexican state oil firm Pemex's Cadereyta refinery, in Cadereyta, on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico April 20, 2020.

Image used for illustrative purpose. General view shows Mexican state oil firm Pemex's Cadereyta refinery, in Cadereyta, on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico April 20, 2020.

REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

LONDON- Oil rose above $56 a barrel on Wednesday, supported by expectations the new U.S. administration will deliver massive stimulus spending that would lift demand, as well as by OPEC curbs and forecasts of a drop in U.S. crude inventories.

U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen on Tuesday urged lawmakers to "act big" on pandemic relief spending. 

A fall in the dollar after the comments helped oil to rally, analysts said.

"This provided a good backdrop for oil and other risk assets," said Stephen Brennock of broker PVM. "While the near-term demand environment continues to be gripped by weakness and uncertainty, the future is brightening."

Brent crude was up 61 cents, or 1.1%, at $56.51 a barrel at 1435 GMT, having gained 2.1% on Tuesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 climbed 66 cents, or 1.3%, to $53.64.

President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration is on Wednesday. 

"In general, oil should retain a positive outlook until such a time as U.S. Senate Republicans signal how supportive, or not, they will be of the proposed Biden stimulus initiatives," said Jeffrey Halley of brokerage OANDA.

A record output cut by OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, in 2020 helped lift prices from historic lows.

This month Brent hit an 11-month high of $57.42, helped by Saudi Arabia pledging to make additional, voluntarily cuts and most OPEC+ members agreeing to keep output steady in February.

Oil drew more support from expectations of lower U.S. crude inventories. Analysts estimate on average crude stocks fell by 300,000 barrels. The first of the week's two supply reports is due on Wednesday from the American Petroleum Institute. 

Gains were limited by concern about near-term demand as COVID-19 infections continue to rise.

China's capital Beijing on Wednesday announced some stricter COVID-19 control measures. 

Germany on Tuesday extended a lockdown for most shops and schools for another two weeks. 

(Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Shu Zhang in Singapore; editing by Jason Neely) ((alex.lawler@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 4087; Reuters Messaging: alex.lawler.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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