Oil Turns Higher, Holding Ground Above $60

Oil futures made a sudden turn higher Tuesday, with analysts attributing the bounce to technical price triggers, expectations for a weekly decline in U.S. crude supplies and a U.S. plan to help Europe defend against security threats, which highlighted U.S. tensions with Russia.

August crude CLQ5, +1.37%  tacked on 56 cents, or 0.9%, to $60.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It had traded as low as $59.55 earlier.

August Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange LCOQ5, +2.05%  added 84 cents, or 1.3%, to $64.18 a barrel.

Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group, said oil likely found support from news that the U.S. will contribute weapons, aircraft and forces to help Europe defend against security threats, including Russia. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement late Monday, according to the Associated Press. Russia is among the world’s largest oil producers.

Carter, however, was quoted as saying “we do not seek a cold, let alone a hot war with Russia.”

Oil traders took positions ahead of upcoming weekly petroleum-supply data. The American Petroleum Institute will issue its report late Tuesday, while Energy Information Administration follows with its own data early Wednesday.

Analysts polled by Platts expect to see a decline of 2.3 million barrels in crude supplies for the week ended June 19.

But Tyler Richey, co-editor of The 7:00’s Report, said the turn higher for oil prices was “completely technical” with some overnight resistance levels for Nymex oil prices being broken early Tuesday so some “low time-frame shorts were forced to cover.”

“The subsequent rally forced futures into longstanding trend resistance… at which point a large number of stop orders were apparently triggered and the speculative bulls piled on,” he said.

The move, however, was “unwarranted fundamentally,” especially given the stronger U.S. dollar DXY, +1.10% said Richey. Because oil is priced in dollars, fluctuations in the dollar can influence the price of crude.

The dollar found support amid Greece’s tenuous move toward an accord with its international creditors and as U.S. central bank officials signaled that conditions for the first rate hike in almost a decade may be met in September.

Meanwhile, the oil market also digested data from China, the world’s second largest oil consumer. The preliminary HSBC China Manufacturing PMI rose to 49.6 in June, compared with a final reading of 49.2 in May.While the data for June showed a slight monthly improvement, a reading below 50 indicates a contraction.

Back on Nymex, July gasoline RBN5, +2.83%  traded at $2.057 a gallon, up 2.7 cents, or 1.4%, while July heating oil HON5, +2.62%  tacked on 3.4 cents, or 1.8%, to $1.904 a gallon.

July natural gas NGN15, +0.18%  rose 2.9 cents, or 1.1%, to $2.762 per million British thermal units.