Crude Oil Futures Settle Sharply Higher

Crude oil futures settled sharply higher on Monday as Saudi Arabia's Aramco hiked prices of its crude exported to Asia and the U.S. and amid easing concerns about Omicron.

Fading prospects of a rise in Iranian oil exports following the failure of U.S.-Iranian talks on saving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal also contributed to the spike in crude oil prices.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for January settled higher by $3.23 or about 4.9% at $69.49 a barrel.

Brent crude futures were up $3.65 or 5.3% at $73.53 a barrel a little while ago.

Saudi Arabia raised official selling prices for all crude grades sold to Asia and the U.S. by up to $0.80 from the previous month. The move suggests that Saudi is very optimistic about demand despite the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, early indications of the severity of the Omicron Covid-19 variant are "a bit encouraging," top U.S. pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci said Sunday, adding that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions and more information was still needed.

South Africa reported that Omicron is not leading to higher hospitalization rates despite a jump in active cases.

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