Oil rises 1% on U.S., China trade talk optimism

Oil rig
Oil rig used to illustrate the story.

Oil prices rose by around 1 per cent on Wednesday, extending gains from the previous session on hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon resolve trade disputes that have cast a dark shadow over the global economy.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures CLc1 were at $50.42 per barrel at 0752 GMT, up 64 cents, or 1.3 per cent, from their last settlement.

That marked the first time this year that WTI has topped $50 a barrel.

International Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 69 cents, or 1.2 per cent, at $59.41 per barrel.

Both crude price benchmarks had already gained more than 2 per cent in the previous session.

“Crude continues to extend gains as early reports from Beijing, regarding trade negotiations, are fuelling optimism around successful trade talks between the U.S. and China,’’ said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

“After a dreadful December for risk markets, crude oil continues to catch a positive vibe,’’ Innes said.

The oil price jumps were in line with Asian stock markets, which climbed to 3-1/2 week highs on Wednesday.

Trade talks in Beijing between the world’s two biggest economies entered the third day on Wednesday, amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities and increased U.S. access to China’s markets.

State newspaper China Daily said on Wednesday that Beijing is keen to put an end to its trade dispute with the United States, but that it will not make any “unreasonable concessions” and that any agreement must involve compromise on both sides.

If no deal is reached by March 2, Trump has said he will proceed with raising tariffs to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports at a time when China’s economy is slowing significantly.

Citing the trade tensions, the World Bank expects global economic growth to slow to 2.9 per cent in 2019 from three per cent in 2018.

“At the beginning of 2018 the global economy was firing on all cylinders, but it lost speed during the year and the ride could get even bumpier in the year ahead,’’ World Bank Chief Executive Officer, Kristalina Georgieva, said in a semi-annual report released late on Tuesday.

More fundamentally, however, oil prices have been receiving support from supply cuts started at the end of 2018 by a group of producers around the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as a non-OPEC member, Russia.

The OPEC-led cuts are aimed at reining in an emerging supply overhang, in part because U.S. crude oil output (C-OUT-T-EIA) surged by around two million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018, to a record 11.7 million bpd.

Official U.S. fuel storage data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due at 1800 GMT on Wednesday.

(Reuters/NAN)

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