Oil Prices Down On US/China Trade Deal May Not Influence High Crude Demand

Yemisi Izuora

Oil prices slipped on Wednesday on concerns that the pending Phase 1 trade deal between the United States and China, the world’s biggest crude users, may not lead to more fuel demand after all as the US intends to keep tariffs on Chinese goods in place.

The US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said late on Tuesday that the tariffs would remain even as a trade deal is set to be signed on Wednesday. That could temper China’s oil demand growth by limiting its access to its second-largest trading partner. Chinese demand has been the main driver of global fuel consumption growth.

Concerns about increasing supply also pressured prices after a government report on Tuesday said that output from the US, currently the world’s largest producer, will increase in 2020 by more than previously forecast. Additionally an industry report late on Tuesday said US crude inventories increased last week.

Brent crude was down 21 cents, or 0.3 per cent, at $64.28 per barrel, while the US West Texas Intermediate, crude futures were down 23 cents, or 0.4 per cent, at $58.00 a barrel.

“Investors are incredibly concerned about the well documented non-OPEC supplies coming to market in 2020, and those worries came to the fore as oil prices headed lower after a bearish to consensus inventory build was reported,” Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader said in a note.

US President Donald Trump is slated to sign the Phase 1 agreement with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House on Wednesday. That agreement is expected to include provisions for China to buy up to $50 billion more in US energy supplies.

However, the Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said in a television interview that the US will keep the tariffs until the completion of a second phase of the agreement.

US crude inventories rose by 1.1 million barrels, data from the American Petroleum Institute, API, showed, countering expectations for a draw. Gasoline and distillate inventories also climbed.

US oil production is expected to rise to a record of 13.30 million barrels per day in 2020 mainly driven by higher output in the Permian region of Texas and New Mexico, the US Energy Information Administration, EIA, said.

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