Oil prices climb amid stimulus hopes

NEW YORK, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices moved higher on Wednesday, buoyed by hopes for further U.S. fiscal stimulus.

The West Texas Intermediate for February delivery added 26 cents to settle at 53.24 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for March delivery increased 18 cents to close at 56.08 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen on Tuesday urged the U.S. Congress to "act big" with a new COVID-19 relief package as the economic recovery is losing momentum amid surging coronavirus cases.

"Oil prices have responded positively to yesterday's statements by U.S. Treasury Secretary-designate Yellen and to the ensuing USD weakness," Eugen Weinberg, energy analyst at Commerzbank Research, said in a note Wednesday.

"The calculation is simple: increased fiscal support means more growth and higher U.S. oil demand," he said, adding the stimulus optimism has offset a downward revise of the demand forecast by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In its closely-watched January report, the IEA has lowered its demand estimate for the first quarter of 2021 by 600,000 barrels per day and for 2021 as a whole by 300,000 barrels per day because of the global lockdowns.

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