Oil prices advance amid stimulus hopes, dollar weakness

NEW YORK, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices climbed on Tuesday, bolstered by weakness in the U.S. dollar and expectations for further U.S. fiscal stimulus.

The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery added 62 cents to settle at 52.98 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for March delivery increased 1.15 dollars to close at 55.90 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

Janet Yellen, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for treasury secretary, on Tuesday urged U.S. Congress to pass a new COVID-19 relief package as the economic recovery is losing momentum amid surging coronavirus cases.

"Economists don't always agree, but I think there is a consensus now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now - and long-term scarring of the economy later," Yellen said at her confirmation hearing virtually held by the Senate Finance Committee.

With interest rates at historic lows, Yellen urged lawmakers to "act big" with the COVID-19 relief package.

Oil also garnered some support from a weaker U.S. dollar, as the dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, fell 0.26 percent to 90.5100 in late trading on Tuesday. Historically, the price of oil is inversely related to the price of the U.S. dollar.

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