Oil markets: US-China trade, OPEC in focus

Oil markets: US-China trade, OPEC in focus

Markets were supported by hopes that an all-out trade war between Washington and Beijing might be averted.

Before that, for much of the last quarter of 2018, crude oil prices were sliding down, losing over 40% from the highs attained in early October.

China plans to set a lower economic growth target of 6-6.5 percent in 2019 compared with last year's target of "around" 6.5 percent, policy sources told Reuters, as Beijing gears up to cope with higher us tariffs and weakening domestic demand.

Crude futures sank along with the ebbing energy stocks in the US stock market as the USA government shutdown has been stretching for three weeks and showed no signs of ending.

"China trade talks, ongoing political uncertainty in the US, and fears that China's weakening economy could adversely hit global oil demand have also contributed toward the weakness in oil prices." he later added.

"We've got that situation played out". That has all happened.

The rally has gained traction since last Friday, when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he was aware of risks to the economy and would be patient and flexible in policy decisions this year.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks bounced back from a rocky start on Thursday, recording their fifth straight gain.

Brent for March settlement fell 16 cents to $61.28 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe Exchange in London, and traded at an $8.81 premium to WTI for the same month.

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Optimism that the trade standoff would be resolved also lifted oil prices.

Lower oil exports from Iran since November, when US resumed sanctions against the OPEC producer, have also supported crude.

At the start of trading on Wednesday, crude oil prices were up around 1 percent through OPEC curbing oil production and with the ongoing trade talks between the USA and China generating investor optimism.

Oil prices received some support this week after Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih vowed to rebalance the market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 5.97 points, or 0.02 percent, to 23,995.95, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.38 point, or 0.01 percent, to 2,596.26 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 14.59 points, or 0.21 percent, to 6,971.48.

"There's a bit of profit-taking in stocks so that helped to rally Treasuries", said Larry Milstein, head of USA government and agency trading at R.W. Pressprich & NY.

Talks are expected to reconvene later this month but investors remained cautious due to concerns about a global economic slowdown.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 108.26 yen from 108.43 yen late Thursday. WTI increased by 0.23 US dollar to settle at 52.59 dollars a barrel, while Brent crude rose 0.24 dollar to close at 61.68 dollars a barrel.

In commodity markets, spot gold edged down to $1,292.70, but still not far off a near seven-month peak of $1.298,60 scaled on Friday.