Oil firms as optimism returns to U.S.-China trade talks

Business


LONDON/TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Tuesday on hopes of progress toward a trade agreement between the United States and China, the world’s biggest oil users, and predictions of a draw in U.S. crude inventories.

FILE PHOTO: Oil pump jacks at sunset near Midland, Texas, U.S., August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jessica Lutz/File Photo

Brent crude LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, was up 20 cents at $63.85 at 0958 GMT. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 rose 19 cents to $58.20.

Top U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators held a phone call on Tuesday morning, China’s Commerce Ministry said, as the two sides try to hammer out a preliminary “phase one” deal in a trade war that has dragged on for 16 months.

The call took place amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington, with China saying it had summoned the U.S. ambassador on Monday to protest against the passage in the U.S. Congress of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

“Oil traders remain hopeful a trade deal will get signed,” said Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader.

On the supply side, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meets on Dec. 5 in Vienna, followed by talks with other oil producers, including Russia, that have agreed to cut output to support prices, a group known as OPEC+.

“The current consensus is that the OPEC+ supply agreement will be rolled over for at least three months at the group’s next meeting with special emphasis on stricter compliance,” Tamas Varga of oil brokerage PVM said.

“It would help a great deal to balance global oil inventories next year. This prevents oil prices from falling.”

Analysts at J.P. Morgan also expect that OPEC+ may extend the output cuts until the end of 2020, the bank said in a note.

In the United States, crude oil stockpiles are expected to have declined by 300,000 barrels last week, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

The poll was conducted ahead of reports from the American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, and the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

“Confirmation of a stock draw from the API today and the EIA tomorrow could offer some immediate support to the market, with the last stock drawdown seen in mid-October,” ING analyst Warren Patterson said.

The API is scheduled to release its data for the latest week at 4:30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT) on Tuesday, and the weekly EIA report is due at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Jan Harvey



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