LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) – Demand in Asia, especially among independent Chinese refiners, was heard to be picking up after a weeks-long lull, pushing up differentials especially for heavy West African grades.
* Less than 20 cargoes remain for April-loading, as buyers sought deals on the overhang.
* Traders said Chinese demand was picking up after March-loading West African grades were snapped up rapidly ahead of the Lunar New Year but traded more slowly for April.
* Main grades Qua Iboe and Bonny light were trending up and being offered at around dated Brent plus $2 a barrel.
* Traders said the differentials appeared to be well supported by robust demand, especially from independent Chinese refiners.
* Angola’s May cargoes are trading well after a slightly more sluggish performance last month, and the April-loading programme has cleared.
* Demand was heard to be especially high for heavy grades like Dalia and Hungo.
* Freight costs remain affordable and have provided an inducement to Asian buyers.
* India’s IOC is running a buy tender for crude cargoes loading May 20-29.
* Uruguay’s state-run oil company ANCAP is also running a buy tender.
* Nigeria’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to 13.5 percent from 14 percent as part of an attempt to stimulate growth in Africa’s biggest economy and signal a “new direction”. (Reporting by Noah Browning, editing by Ed Osmond) ))