Shanghai crude oil futures jump more than 6%

Crude oil prices are up as tensions appear to lessen. Reuters

Martin said he expects a "gentle" start from overseas, though, because foreign investors have to overcome some regulatory hurdles in gaining access to the market.

Spot Shanghai crude futures ISCc1 were down by 4.1 percent on Wednesday, to 408.9 yuan ($65.09) per barrel by 0612 GMT.

In Asia, Shanghai crude oil futures saw their third day of trading continuing with high volume and volatile trading.

Within minutes of the launch, the price had gone up to nearly US$70.85 (447 yuan) from a starting price of US$69.94 (440.4 yuan) per barrel.

The current global standards are London-trade Brent futures, and West Texas Intermediate (WTI), which is traded in NY.

Financial oil markets have always been dominated by Europe's Brent and America's WTI, despite Asia being the world's biggest and fastest growing oil consumer, has so far not had a benchmark.

So far, China has opened more than 6,000 trading accounts, including the country's oil majors and about 150 brokerages.

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The long-heralded trading debut of the crude oil futures - the first commodity futures contract that allows foreign traders to participate - comes after China surpassed the United States to become the world's largest crude importer in 2017. "With this launch, the market will pay more attention to China's demand story". Still, concerns over American shale oil remain, with analysts forecasting a gain in USA crude inventories last week. Domestic firms, including Unipec, Chinaoil, Cnooc, and Sinochem, as well as independent refiner Shandong Huifeng Petrochemical, also joined trading, which started on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange on Monday.

"Whether this will have any real bearing on the other crude benchmarks, I'm not quite sure, but traders love a new toy, so I applaud China for bringing in something that could stoke up some volatility", said Matt Stanley, a fuel broker with Freight Investor Services (FIS) in Dubai.

Despite this, there were concerns over regulatory interference, as seen in other Chinese commodities like iron ore and coal.

Similar obstacles have kept foreign investors as bit players in the nation's giant stock and bond markets.

"The expectations of a rise in inventories have weighed on the price", said Daniel Hynes, a senior commodities strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group. Yuan-based futures will help promote the yuan as a global currency.

While he is not particularly watching it closely for the moment, ANZ's Chinese desk is very focused on it, he said.

One way of tempering the froth has been to limit physical delivery space for the oil barrels, as well as set storage costs that are double the rate elsewhere.

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