Crude oil settled at above $62. Resistance at $62.58

Strong Earnings Growth to Drive S&P 500 in 2018

Oil prices posted their strongest start to a year since 2014 on Tuesday, with crude rising to mid-2015 highs amid large anti-government rallies in Iran and ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC and Russian Federation.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $61.95 a barrel at 0619 GMT.

Oil has risen for two years running as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russian Federation led a coalition of oil producers in cutting output.

Analysts at TAC Energy said oil's move lower "looks like a natural correction of the ongoing bull market".

"With that partially offsetting production cuts by OPEC and Russian Federation, the market will have to get confirmation that global inventories will keep coming down", Gene McGillian, a market research manager at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut, told Bloomberg. USA crude settled up 38 cents at $62.01, after earlier hitting $62.21, its highest since May 2015. USA exports of crude oil averaged 1.0 MMBPD through October 2017, on pace for a record high and an increase of 445,000 BPD from the 2016 average. United States crude production continued to rise to reach 9.78mn barrels per day (mbpd) in the latest week (Reuters). Earlier in the session, it traded as high as $68.27. US commercial crude inventories fell by 7.4 million barrels in the week to December 29, to 424.46 million barrels, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). U.S. crude rose 15 cents to $61.78 and also touched the highest since May 2015.

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Brent futures prices for the next six months are already trading in a backwardation of around $2 per barrel, which is consistent with a market that is already tight and undersupplied.

The alliance between Opec, Russia and other large producers to remove 1.8m b/d from the market since last January has had the biggest impact on draining bloated oil inventories.

This would provide further upward momentum for prices, as would more militant attacks in Libya: Yesterday, a senior official from the U.S. Africa Command told Asharq Al-Awsat Islamic State forces in Libya may be planning an attack on the country's so-called Oil Crescent.

IANS reported that the U.S. could become the oil world's new king in 2018 as it was poised to ramp up crude oil production by 10 per cent to about 11 million barrels per day. They agreed late last year to extend their cuts to December 2018, with the ultimate goal of reducing crude oil inventories in the OECD countries to the five-year average.

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