The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported that USA crude inventories fell 4 million barrels last week, a far cry from a Reuters poll predicting a 1.2 million barrel build; as a result, Brent rose 49 cents to settle at $70.37 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate settled up 72 cents at $62.12.
Oil prices have had some support from signs of tighter global supply on the back of production cuts by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russian Federation.
Brent crude futures rose 44 cents to $70.32 a barrel, a 0.6 percent gain, by 1:06 p.m. EDT.
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But analysts said there's little sign that China will step away from talks, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang telling reporters that "China's team is preparing to go to the United States for the discussions". Denting bullion's appeal was a firmer dollar, which gained 0.2 percent, making gold more expensive for investors of other currencies.
Imports for the first four months increased 16.4 percent on the year to 31.89 million tonnes, customs said.
"They don't want to raise their production above the 10.3 million bpd, because they are part of the OPEC+ pact, but they are also being pressured by the U.S.to increase their output", one of the sources said at the time.
Heightened tensions between the world's two biggest economies risk derailing global growth and could hurt oil demand.
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Washington has also slapped sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports, further disrupting crude supply. USA and Chinese negotiators are meeting tomorrow with the hope to avoid such an escalation of the trade war, and thus we are expecting to see further volatility to come tomorrow when the outcome of those talks emerge.
The latest news from the EIA that replacement barrels for the lost Iranian crude oil may not arrive for months, is actually supportive news.
"Alternative supplies to Iranian oil for Japan are likely to come mainly from the Middle East given the existing supply chains", Takayuki Uematsu, senior executive officer at Cosmo Energy Holdings Co Ltd, told an earnings news conference on Thursday. The demand is expected to rise by 1.5 million b/d in 2020, up from expected growth of 1.4 million b/d in 2019.
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There's been true serendipity this week between the North Korea and USA tests, even if the timing is supposed to be accidental. But there have been no signs of the others, according to North Korea's official position.