Oil prices edge up on U.S.-China trade optimism, but demand concerns cap

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SEOUL (Reuters) – Oil prices steadied a little on Tuesday, supported by signs of progress in talks on resolving the U.S.-China trade dispute, but gains were contained by lingering anxiety a slowdown in the global economy could hurt crude demand.

FILE PHOTO: Oil rigs are seen at Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas drilling, in the Patagonian province of Neuquen, Argentina January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Brent crude futures were at $59.10 a barrel by 0027 GMT, up 14 cents, or 0.2%, from their previous settlement. Brent settled down 0.8% at $58.96.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures advanced 18 cents, or 0.3%, from their last close to $53.49 per barrel. In the previous session, WTI settled 0.9 lower at $53.31 a barrel.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said efforts to end a U.S. trade war with China were going well as negotiators from the two nations work to nail down a Phase 1 trade deal text for their leaders to sign next month when they meet at November’s APEC summit.

“Commodity markets were cautiously optimistic amid signs that a trade deal was close to being signed by the United States and China,” ANZ bank said in a note.

“Crude oil prices remained in the doldrums, with ongoing economic weakness weighing on sentiment,” ANZ Bank added.

Brent is down about 22% from its April peak, while WTI is down around 20% from its peak reached in April.

Although there are some signs of easing tensions between the world’s two largest economies, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Monday that an initial trade deal doesn’t need to be finalised next month, emphasizing the need to get the right deal.

That raises the risk of further prolonged negotiations and feed market anxiety about the prospects for a durable deal. Adding to tensions, China is seeking $2.4 billion in retaliatory sanctions against the United States for non-compliance with a WTO ruling in a tariffs case dating back to the era of President Barack Obama, a document showed.

On the supply side, U.S. crude stockpiles were expected to have increased for the sixth straight week, while distillates and gasoline stocks likely fell in the week to Oct.18, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.



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