World oil prices struck fresh 2019 peaks yesterday, boosting energy company share prices, while Wall Street opened higher after a series of better-than-expected corporate results.

Crude futures extended Monday’s sharp rally, which was triggered by a US crackdown on Iranian oil exports.

Brent North Sea crude reached $74.70 per barrel yesterday, the highest point since early November, before falling back slightly. WTI hit a similar near six-month high at $66.19. 

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 rose by 0.6 per cent on the news.

“UK markets have returned from their long break with solid gains for the FTSE 100, led by strength in oil stocks thanks to the surge in crude prices over the past 24 hours,” noted Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG trading group.

Brent had rallied more than two dollars on Monday and WTI jumped $1.70. 

Meanwhile, US giants including Twitter, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Verizon revealed positive earning reports after the Easter break, buoying investor hopes.

However, analyst Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com said traders could still be holding fire ahead of more results. 

“The blue chip results are nice to see, yet this market is probably waiting on a stronger directional cue from the response to earnings reports from Facebook and Amazon later in the week,” he said.

The White House on Monday announced it was calling an end to six-month waivers that had exempted countries from unilateral US sanctions for  buying Iranian oil.

Starting in May, these countries, China, India, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and Greece, would face sanctions if they continue to buy oil from Iran.

“This points to a big drop in the supply side, which boosts the commodity’s price,” said Margaret Yang Yan, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore.

“Iran’s daily oil output amounts to 1.3 million barrels, according to latest figures in end-March.” 

But she added that “the sustainability of oil’s rally depends on Saudi and other Opec members’ actions to increase oil supply in the month to come”.

Stephen Innes, head of trading and market strategy at SPI Asset Management, said rising crude prices meant $80 per barrel was now a “possibility”.

“Oil quickly re-priced higher on fears that markets could face an immediate supply crunch, adding more pressure to the already tenuous global supply squeeze,” he added.

Energy and oil-linked shares jumped yesterday, with Tokyo-listed crude developer Inpex rallying 2.8 per cent and oil refiner JXTG up 1.1 per cent.

In London, BP shot up 2.4 per cent and Shell 2.3 per cent.

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