(Bloomberg) -- Oil rose to a two-week high on signals that talks may resume between the U.S. and China, rekindling hopes trade tensions will ease.
Futures in New York climbed 1.7%, advancing for the third consecutive day. President Donald Trump said talks were planned sometime Thursday with China after Beijing said it won’t immediately retaliate against the latest U.S. tariff increase. That has fueled speculation that planned trade discussions for September could go ahead as scheduled, paving the way for tensions to ease.
“U.S.-China hope has been the driver this week,” said said Ashley Petersen, lead oil market analyst at Stratas Advisors. Plans for Thursday’s discussions have signaled optimism for the September talks to happen, she added. “That’s what caused the market to stay strong and close higher.”
Oil is poised for its biggest weekly gain since mid-July, buoyed by government data showing inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, had sunk to the lowest level in eight months after the startup of new pipelines from the Permian. The Cushing hub is the largest commercial oil storage depot in the U.S, and the delivery point of the futures contract.
West Texas Intermediate for October delivery climbed 93 cents to $56.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The December 2019-December 2020 spread surged 52 cents to $3.50 a barrel a sign that investors see inventories growing tighter.
Brent for October settlement rose 59 cents to $61.08 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe Exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a $4.37 premium to WTI.
While the EIA’s report of a steep 10-million-barrel decline in total crude stocks was bullish for the market, it was balanced out by record high volumes in crude production, said Gene McGillian, a senior analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Connecticut.
More importantly, there appears to be a two-way battle being waged in the market, causing prices to get stuck, said McGillian. On the one hand, the Trump-Beijing trade crisis is slowing down economic activity, particularly in Asia and Europe, and affecting overall demand. On the flip side, there’s been producer output cuts as well as Iranian sanctions that have strained supplies to the market, he added.
“There’s been a little to and fro and the market is stuck here with WTI around $55, Brent around $60,” McGillian said. “The market is looking for its next driver.”
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