Crude oil gains in Asia with Irma impact and Chinese yuan in focus

Crude oil prices gained in Asia on Monday as the impact of Hurricane Irma was not as severe as expected so far, but still packed a wallop for Florida even as its intensity was downgraded and as investors eyed China crude buying trends in the wake of a strongly stronger yuan.

Hurricane Irma knocked out power to more than 2.4 million homes and businesses in Florida on Sunday, threatening millions more as it crept up the state’s west coast, and full restoration of service will take weeks, local electric utilities said.

But after Hurricane Irma hit Florida on Sunday morning as a dangerous Category 4 storm, the second highest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, it weakened to a Category 2 with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (177 kph).

The yuan gained to its highest level since May 2016 on Monday, a boon for commodity imports priced in dolalrs that are imported into China such as crude oil.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 0.67% to $47.80 a barrel. Brent crude, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S. gained 0.35% to $53.97 a barrel. The global benchmark closed last week with a gain of $1.03, or around 1.9%, after rising to a more than four-month high of $54.87 on Thursday.
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