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China's first ever yuan oil futures begin trading in Shanghai

[SEOUL] China launched its first ever crude-futures contract as the world's biggest oil buyer seeks to wield greater power over pricing and challenge benchmarks in the US and Europe.

The long-awaited yuan-denominated futures on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange traded at 440.20 yuan a barrel (S$91.74) at 9.01am local time. The contracts, which are open to foreign investors, end years of delays and setbacks since China's first attempt to list the securities in 1993.

The two major dollar-based oil benchmarks, Brent in London and West Texas Intermediate in New York, traded near US$70.95 a barrel and US$66.42 a barrel, respectively.