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Inter-month Dubai crude futures spreads narrow as spot trading activity emerges

Singapore — Benchmark Dubai crude futures inter-month spreads weakened mid-morning on Wednesday in Asia as spot trading activity emerged in the Middle East crude market.

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The February/March inter-month spread for Dubai crude futures was pegged at 83 cents/b at 11 am in Singapore (0300 GMT), compared with an assessed 89 cents/b at 4:30 pm Singapore time on Tuesday.

The March/April spread was pegged at 86 cents/b Wednesday morning, down from 88 cents/b assessed at the close of trading Tuesday.

Spot trading activity kicked off in the Middle East crude market with Murban and Basrah Light cargo heard to have changed hands.

A 500,000-barrel cargo of Murban crude, for loading over March 1-25, was seen traded in the Platts Market on Close assessment process on Tuesday at a discount of 50 cents/b to the grade's official selling price. BP purchased a cargo offered by Total.

In comparison, Murban traded at cash differentials ranging from a premium of 25 cents/b to a discount of 10 cents/b to its OSP last month.

Talk also indicated that February-loading cargoes of Basrah Light could have changed hands at premiums of around $1.20/b to the OSP. Further details on the trade were not immediately clear.

Meanwhile, the March Brent/Dubai Exchange Futures for Swaps spread was pegged at $1.88/b at 11 am in Singapore, up from $1.83/b on Tuesday evening at the close of trading in Asia.

The Brent/Dubai EFS rebounded after falling to a nine-month low of $1.79/b at the close of trading in Asia on Monday.

The EFS widened as ICE Brent rose more than Dubai futures Wednesday morning, ahead of the signing of the US-China Phase One trade deal anticipated in Washington later on Wednesday.

In the Middle East crude market, market participants await the outcome of Qatar Petroleum's Al-Shaheen tender, which closed Tuesday and is valid until Wednesday, to provide further indication on market direction for the medium sour crude complex.