Oil price hardly changed amid expectations of trade deal

Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Singapore — Oil prices held nearly flat on Thursday after US President Donald Trump said a resolution to the China-US trade rift would come sooner than expected, helping to stave off pressure from rising oil supplies and worries about global growth.

Brent crude futures were at $62.34 a barrel, down 5c, or 0.1%, from the previous close, by 0158 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 6c, or 0.1%, to $56.55 a barrel.

Trump said on Wednesday — a day after a stinging rebuke to China for its trade practices — that Beijing wanted to make a deal “very badly”.

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also signed a limited trade deal that would open up Japanese markets to about $7bn worth of US products annually.

“Signs of easing trade tension has overshadowed the bearish raft of indicators that saw oil prices topple head over heels this week,” said Stephen Innes, Asia-Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader.

Both Brent and WTI on Wednesday hit their lowest marks since the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities on September 14, weighed down by a surprise 2.4-million barrels build in US crude inventories last week and a faster-than-expected recovery of Saudi production capacity.

“With the supply risk premiums evaporating and the oil fear factor but a distant memory, demand worries are back competing for attention,” said Innes.

A firmer dollar, which posted its sharpest daily gain in three months overnight and held steady in Asian trade, also weighed on oil prices as it makes dollar-traded fuel imports more costly for countries using other currencies.