Oil prices are mixed as all eyes turn to stalled trade negotiations
US West Texas Intermediate weaken, while Brent edges higher as traders fret over global economy amid US-China standoff
Tokyo — Oil futures were mixed on Monday, with US crude edging lower, as investors and traders fretted over global economic growth prospects amid a standoff in China-US trade talks.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $61.58 per barrel, down 9c, or 0.2% at 0223 GMT (4.23 SA time), from their previous settlement. WTI closed the last session steady on the day.
Meanwhile Brent crude futures were at $70.73 a barrel, up 11c, or 0.2%, from their last close. Brent ended the previous session little changed.
The trade conflict between the world’s top two economies escalated on Friday, with the US hiking tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese goods after President Donald Trump said Beijing “broke the deal” by reneging on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations.
The parties appeared at a deadlock over negotiations on Sunday as Washington demanded promises of concrete changes to Chinese law and Beijing said it will not swallow any “bitter fruit” that harms its interests.
The US and China together accounted for 34% of global oil consumption in the first quarter of 2019, data from the International Energy Agency shows.
“The US-China trade war is set to intensify, which will limit gains in prices,” said Abhishek Kumar, head of analytics at Interfax Energy in London.
“Market participants will closely watch China’s retaliatory steps in response to the imposition of additional US tariffs on Chinese goods,” Kumar said, adding the dispute “could be particularly detrimental to the growth in global oil demand”.
Separately, in an early indicator of future output, US energy companies last week reduced the number of oil rigs operating for the third time in four weeks.
Drillers cut two oil rigs in the week to May 10, bringing the total count down to 805, General Electric’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday.
The rig count has declined over the past five months as independent exploration and production companies cut spending on new drilling.