Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

London — Oil prices rose about 2% on Friday, regaining ground after their biggest falls in years on US President Donald Trump’s decision to impose more tariffs on Chinese imports.

The move, due to take effect on September 1, will intensify a trade war between the world’s top two economies and crude consumers that has disrupted global supply chains and roiled financial markets.

Brent crude futures slumped more than 7% on Thursday, their steepest drop in more than three years. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell nearly 8% to post their biggest drop in more than four years.

The collapse ended a fragile rally built on steady drawdowns in US inventories, even though global demand looked shaky due to the trade dispute.

Brent futures rose $1.50, or 2.5%, to $62 a barrel by 8.45am GMT on Friday, while WTI futures gained $1.07, or 2%, to $55.02 a barrel.

“Crude has consolidated with a hefty rebound in early trading today, however volatility will likely remain high as the market gets a feel for potential Chinese retaliatory measures in the coming days,” consultancy JBC Energy said in a note. “The more medium-term macro-situation has taken a hit with the chances of a swift US-Chinese rapprochement diminishing.”

Trump said on Thursday that he would impose a 10% tariff on $300bn of Chinese imports and could raise tariffs further if China’s President Xi Jinping fails to move more quickly to strike a trade deal.

The announcement extends Trump’s tariffs to nearly all of China’s imports into the US.

The US economy expanded by 2.1% in the second quarter, government data showed on July 26, which beat economists’ expectations, though it was lower than first-quarter growth.

Still, there are some signs of the economic toll of the trade dispute between the US and China, which, this week, reported slowing manufacturing activity in July.

US manufacturing activity also slipped last month, dropping to a near three-year low, and construction spending fell in June as investment in private construction projects tumbled to its lowest level in one-and-a-half years, data showed on Thursday.

The economic slowdown has translated into falling oil demand in the US, the world’s biggest oil consumer. The amount of crude processed at US oil refineries averaged 17.2-million barrels per day (bpd) over the past four weeks, down 1.3% from the same time a year ago, US government data showed this week.