Oil dips as China-US trade tensions deepen

Crude Oil Pump

Crude Oil Pump

Oil prices on Wednesday pulled back from gains racked up the previous day, pushed down amid a surprise climb in USA crude stockpiles.

Oil prices were little changed on Monday as the market weighed deepening trade tension between the USA and China that is expected to dent global crude demand and potential supply tightening due to Iran sanctions.

Data from the InterContinental Exchange shows open interest in calls that give the owner the right to buy Brent futures at $80 and $85 by next week grew by almost 45 percent on Monday and Tuesday to an equivalent of 54 million barrels of oil.

US crude futures CLc1 settled up $1.27, or 1.8 percent, at $71.12 a barrel.

Reuters reported on September 5 that Saudi Arabia wants oil to stay between $70 and $80 a barrel to keep a balance between maximizing revenue and keeping a lid on prices until US congressional elections.

US President Donald Trump has called for OPEC members, primarily US ally Saudi Arabia, to raise their production, and warned importers to stop buying oil from Iran or face American sanctions.

Reuters reported on September 5 that Saudi Arabia wanted oil to stay between $70 and $80 to keep a balance between maximising revenue and keeping a lid on prices until USA congressional elections.

Brent may fall more than $1 to $76.37 a barrel, while WTI crude prices may revisit their September 14 low of $67.94, he wrote.

The trade dispute is raising concerns about the potential for slower growth in oil consumption, offsetting supply concerns stemming from the upcoming US sanctions on Iran.

Ahead of that meeting in Vienna, the producers will meet in Algeria this month to discuss possible scenarios.

USA crude inventories fell 2.1 million barrels last week to 394.1 million barrels, the lowest level since February 2015, government data showed. Russia, the world's largest oil producer, and other producers in OPEC have kept in place a supply agreement to maintain prices while at the same time providing enough oil to the market.

US sanctions affecting Iran's oil exports come into force on November 4 and many buyers have already scaled back Iranian purchases.

Beijing on Tuesday quickly added $60 billion of USA products to its import tariff list in retaliation for President Donald Trump's planned levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Since spring when the Trump Administration said it would impose the sanctions, crude traders have priced in a risk premium reflecting the supply shortages that may occur when exports from Iran, the third-largest Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) producer, are cut.

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