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28 March 2018, 01:09 | Gordon Grant
Shanghai crude oil futures roar into action
The world's biggest oil buyer is offering yuan-denominated futures that foreigners can buy and sell - a first in Chinese commodities.
Nearly 40.7 million barrels of oil changed hands via the September contract during Monday's five-hour session, according to data from the Shanghai Futures Exchange.
China's desire to open a domestic market to trade futures has grown as the country's crude imports have boomed.
Futures contracts allow investors to hedge exposure to physical prices, and offering them in yuan could allow energy-hungry China - which previous year surpassed the United States as the world's largest crude importer - to exercise more control over prices of the type of oil it consumes most.
About 413 participants joined the bid collection session in the morning, which include state-owned oil companies - Unipec, CNOOC, Sinochem, Northern Petroleum, independent oil companies and refineries Twinace, Shandong Wonfull, and foreign oil trading companies Trafigura, Glencore, and Freepoint, according to local media.
The number of active USA oil rigs rose to a three-year high of 804 last week, implying further rises in future production.
That's different to global exchanges, like the CME, which uses a ratio based on an investor's traded volume.
LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Crude oil futures slipped on Monday, but losses were capped by a rebound in stock markets and escalating Saudi-Iran tensions.
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Brent and WTI, in contrast, were down by that time, weighed down by concerns over a looming USA trade dispute with China. The contract amount is 1,000 barrels, the Exchange reports.
Shanghai Crude aims to rival the world's two crude benchmarks, luring overseas traders with the promise of a deep pool of liquidity and the chance for arbitrage between Asian, U.S. and European markets.
The contract for delivery in September opened about 6 per cent higher at 440.20 yuan (US$69.70) a barrel at 9:01am.
Skeptics argue that hurdles such as capital controls, regulatory risk and market intervention in other Chinese securities have made investors cynical about the prospect of Shanghai futures becoming a regional price-setter. By 11:14 a.m. (0314 GMT), 3,599 lots of the most-active June contract had traded, equivalent to 3.6 million barrels of crude.
Analysts said the market's current strength may not last.
These and other factors mean the contract may have a "hard time" building correlations with Brent and WTI that would make arbitrage possible, said Albert Helmig, chief executive of financial consultancy Grey House and a former vice chairman of NYMEX.
Once the exchange has established the prices of marker crude oil grades in China, these prices would have to be reflected in prices offered by suppliers in the Middle East and USA.
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