Intensifies Sanctions on Venezuela, Oil Prices Jump as US

West Texas Intermediate crude futures traded from New York gained 36 cents, or 0.7%, to $ 55.05 a barrel as of 07:52 AM ET, while Brent crude futures, a benchmark for oil prices outside the US, rose 17 cents, or 0.3%, to $ 59.98.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order late Monday to declare a total economic embargo against Venezuela, freezing all government assets and banning transactions with the country unless specifically excluded.

The US announced in January the recognition of Juan Guaidó, head of the Venezuelan national assembly, as the country’s legitimate leader. Although over 50 countries around the world were suing, key players such as Russia and China still support Maduro.

Oil prices fell slightly on Tuesday after the US lifted sanctions on Venezuela, offering resentment from continued trade tensions that sent the US crude to 1.7% the day before.

Trump wrote to Congress that the decision is designed to further tighten Venezuela “in light of the continued usurpation of power by Nicolá Maduro’s illegal regime.”

International sanctions have exacerbated the strain on Venezuela, whose economic crisis saw the country’s oil production last year cut in half.

Also, adding to short-term price outlooks, markets expect US weekly crude stocks to fall for an eighth straight week.

Industry group American Petroleum Institute will release its weekly report at 4:30 PM ET. Official data from the Energy Information Administration will be released Wednesday amid forecasts of a 3.3 million barrel oil withdrawal.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the latest Gulf Intelligence monthly survey showed that two-thirds of respondents expect the extension of the “OPEC +” deal to limit production to push Brent crude prices to $ 70 a barrel, other things are equal.

In other energy trading, gasoline futures advanced 0.3% to $ 1.7225 a gallon at 7:54 AM ET, while heating oil rose 0.2% to $ 1.8399 a gallon.

Finally, futures for natural gas traded up 2.6% to $ 2,123 per million British thermal units./

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