U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures pushed through 56 dollars per barrel for the first time this year, hitting 56.13 dollars a barrel before edging back to 56.02 dollars a barrel by 0112 GMT, still up 0.8 per cent from their last settlement.
For both benchmarks, these were their highest levels since November 20, 2018.
Prices of the barrel of the American reference for the sweet light crude oil are hovering the $56.00 mark today, a tad lower than earlier 2019 tops near $56.30.
Hopes of a US-China trade deal have lent extra oxygen to crude oil prices in past sessions and this should remain a key driver in the very near term ahead of this week's negotiations.
Former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister on the impact of US sanctions on Venezuela and the push for USA energy independence.
Refiners around the world are also having to pay more to secure supplies of the medium, or heavy, sour crudes produced by Iran and Venezuela, both of which are under USA sanctions.
Earlier in the trading day, news of a fall in Chinese auto sales in January had raised concerns about how fuel demand in the world's second-largest oil user might fare. Bigger-than-expected cuts from OPEC and its de facto leader and largest producer Saudi Arabia helped push prices up. "Trade tensions which have weighed on global growth are showing signs of easing boosting sentiment across markets and lifting oil demand prospects", said Jasper Lawler, head of research at futures brokerage London Capital Group.
"IndianOil has finalised a term contract for import of up to 3 million tonnes of crude oil of U.S. origin grades as a part of its strategy to diversify term crude sources". This continued the 2018 trend, in which China recorded the first annual drop in vehicle sales on record. Hopes of a trade deal between the USA and China are also lending support for prices.
United States energy firms last week increased the number of oil rigs looking for new production by three, to a total of 857.
Oil rig count rose by 3 during last week to 857 active oil rigs.