China is about to shake up the oil futures market

China launches first ever yuan-denominated oil futures contract posts more than 6% jump

The treasury bond futures were launched at the Shanghai-based China Financial Futures Exchange and started trading on September 6, 2013. This is the first in Asia and it allows foreign companies to participate, with contracts being settled in renminbi.

The new contracts are "rooted in China's ambition to increase its bargaining power to price energy supplies amidst an increasing reliance on oil imports", energy industry information provider ICIS said in a research note.

China launched its first ever yuan-denominated oil futures contract in Shanghai on Monday, marking the first time foreign investors will have access to Chinese commodity futures as the world's top crude importer seeks greater influence over global prices. China imports about 600,000 b/d of Oman crude.

That concern did not scare off global commodity trading giant Glencore, which according to Chinese brokerage Xinhu Futures carried out the first trade on the Shanghai crude oil futures.

The Shanghai contract traded higher than its London and NY counterparts shortly after debuting, at 432.2 yuan (USD 68.43) per barrel for September settlement at around 0145 GMT, according to Bloomberg News.

Meanwhile, the two major USA dollar-based oil benchmarks, Brent in London and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) in NY, were trading at US$70.81 and US$66.18 a barrel respectively.

Futures contracts are used to fix prices today for later delivery, usually within 60 days. About 19 foreign brokers had registered to trade the contracts as of last week, the exchange said.

The early involvement of big worldwide traders was a morale boost to the fledging market, but state oil majors like PetroChina and Sinopec are expected to provide a significant amount of liquidity in the long-term.

Liquidity was driven by speculative retail and institutional investors, said Chen Tong, Shanghai-based senior crude analyst at First Futures.

Analysts have noted that the launch of the petro-yuan could shatter the petro-dollar's dominance of the crude oil market.

At 9:56 a.m. (0256 GMT), Shanghai prices were up 4.4 percent at 434 yuan, with 24,132 lots traded.

Nevertheless, the existing price benchmarks - Brent and WTI crude - are both in dollars, and importers across the world must buy dollars in order to conduct oil deals. "In the long run, yuan crude price will mirror the moves of Brent", he said.

Brent and WTI, in contrast, were down by that time, weighed down by concerns over a looming US trade dispute with China.

On the other hand, experts forecast this nation could even change radically the rules of the game in the oil market by giving sellers of raw materials the opportunity to avoid the obligation of using the greenback and to buyers of having to pay with youans or gold.



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