Yuan-based oil futures begin trading on Shanghai market

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The media outlet added that for their part, Brent and WTI September contracts were traded at $69.78 and $65.78 a barrel, respectively. Oil prices rose today with global Brent crude futures opening above US$70 per barrel for the first time since January.

Meanwhile, Chinese commodities markets' reputation for high volatility, and the fact that the contracts are denominated in yuan, not dollars, could damp global investors' appetite for the futures. This is the first in Asia, and it allows foreign companies to participate, with contracts being settled in renminbi (the yuan is the basic unit of the renminbi). This contract will be more in-line with local supply and demand fundamentals.

China's first long-expected crude oil futures has started trading on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange Monday, with the front-month September contract being the most actively traded in the first morning session, according to data from INE's website. China imports about 600,000 b/d of Oman crude. And China would benefit from having a benchmark that reflects the grades of oil that are mostly consumed by local refineries and differ from those underpinning Western contracts.

The most active contracts on the first day of trading traded at a discount of more than $1 a barrel to the benchmark Brent crude price in London.

"It's early days, and the speed at which China's futures market influences crude prices will depend on several factors", says Gupta.

Straits said it brokered the first trade for Glencore and cleared the deal through Xinhu Futures.

Futures for September settlement opened at 440 yuan a barrel, up from a reference price of 416 yuan.

The yuan-denominated contract will also help Beijing's efforts to internationalise the nation's currency, said Woodmac's Gupta. "I still think there is a general reluctance from global investors to trade Chinese-based contracts".

Liquidity was driven by speculative retail and institutional investors, said Chen Tong, Shanghai-based senior crude analyst at First Futures. Once established, China's reference crude prices could also act as a regional benchmark for negotiations of spot or term crude oil prices in other markets, such as Japan and South Korea.

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

FBN's Jeff Flock talks to PRICE Futures Group's Phil Flynn about the prediction that the USA could soon become the largest oil producer in the world. Chinese exchanges count each way of the trade - the buy and sell - as two lots.