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Oil Set for Weekly Drop on Rising Saudi Output and Trade Woes


By Heesu Lee and Alex Longley

(Bloomberg) Oil headed for its biggest weekly loss in a month as swelling American stockpiles and renewed doubts over a long-term U.S.-China trade deal suggested supply will continue to outpace demand.Futures edged higher in New York on Friday, but are down about 4% this week. Chinese officials are warning they won’t budge on the most problematic issues and are wary of President Donald Trump’s impulsiveness even as the two sides get close to signing an initial agreement, people familiar with the matter said. U.S. crude inventories rose by more than forecast last week, while a JBC Energy report showed Saudi production rebounded to normal levels in October.

Oil's set for biggest weekly drop in a month

Ample physical oil supplies, at a time when the trade war is sapping global economic growth, are putting pressure on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies to reduce output further to prop up prices. However, signs that Russia is wary of more cuts may mean Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states will have to go it alone.

“Looking ahead, any price recovery faces an uphill struggle given the backdrop of rising supply and cooling demand,” PVM Oil Associates analyst Stephen Brennock wrote in a report.

West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery rose 22 cents, or 0.4%, to $54.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 10:55 a.m. London time. Brent for January was steady at $59.73 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.27 to WTI for the same month.

The “phase one” U.S.-China trade deal is designed — according to the Trump administration — to lead to a more comprehensive agreement involving more substantive economic reforms. But Chinese officials are skeptical, saying that would require the U.S. to withdraw tariffs on some $360 billion of imports from China — something many don’t see Trump being ready to do.

Other oil-market news:
  • Despite trade-war gloom, Chinese manufacturing continued to pick up in October, with new orders rising at the quickest pace in more than six years, according to a private survey of purchasing managers.
  • The shutdown of the Keystone crude pipeline after leaking thousands of barrels of crude in North Dakota may increase costs for U.S. Gulf Coast refiners returning from seasonal maintenance.
  • Iraq’s oil production could be in danger if unrest in the country escalates, given that the crude-rich Basra province is at the center of the turmoil, RBC Capital Markets analyst Helima Croft said in a research note.


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