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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Oil up as US production rises and Asian economies slow

Traders said Thursday's markets were also pushed up by news that China and the US will hold trade talks later this month

An oil tanker off the Fos-Lavera oil hub near Marseille, France. Crude prices have lifted. Reuters
An oil tanker off the Fos-Lavera oil hub near Marseille, France. Crude prices have lifted. Reuters

Oil prices on Thursday recouped some of the previous day's losses after Beijing said it would send a delegation to Washington to try to resolve trade disputes between the United States and China that have roiled global markets.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $70.93 per barrel at 03.35 GMT, up 17 cents, or 0.26 per cent, from their last close.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were weaker, trading down 8 cents at $64.93 a barrel amid rising US crude production and storage levels.

Both benchmarks lost more than 2 per cent the previous day.

Traders said Thursday's markets were pushed up by news that a Chinese delegation led by Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen will hold talks with US representatives led by Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass later in August.

China and the United States have implemented several rounds of tit-for-tat tariffs on each others goods since the start of the year and have threatened further tariffs on exports worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Still, sentiment in oil markets was broadly cautious due to the rise in US crude production and storage levels and weakness in emerging economies, especially in Asia.

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Output of US crude rose by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the week ending August 10, to 10.9 million bpd, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) weekly production and storage report.

At the same time, US crude inventory levels climbed by 6.8 million barrels, to 414.19 million barrels, the EIA said.

"This build certainly hasn't helped market sentiment," Dutch bank ING said after the release of the EIA report.

While supply rose in the United States, Asia's markets were showing signs of economic slowdown due to trade disputes with the United States and currency weakness, dragging on oil market sentiment.

In Japan, official data on Thursday showed a slowdown in export growth as well as a decline in crude oil imports.

Asia's currencies also remained under pressure, with the dollar holding near 13-month peaks on Thursday as political turmoil in Turkey and concerns about China's economic health continued to support safe-haven assets.

Providing Brent crude with some support were looming US sanctions against Iran's oil exports, set to start from November, with Asian buyers including India, South Korea and Japan already scaling back orders in anticipation.