Oil Retreats as Trade War Concern Returns

Oil Retreats as Trade War Concern Returns
Oil retreated from a five-week high as concern over the U.S.-China trade war came back to the fore.

(Bloomberg) -- Oil retreated from a five-week high as concern over the trade war came back to the fore after President Donald Trump warned he might impose substantial additional tariffs on Chinese imports.

Futures in New York fell as much as 1.1% after closing up 2.7% Wednesday as the Energy Information Administration reported U.S. crude stockpiles dropped the most in almost a year. Trump warned in an interview with Fox Business Network of more levies if there’s no progress at his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit on Saturday.

Oil jumped more than 10% in the week through Wednesday on tensions in the Persian Gulf as well as the American stockpiles draw. Trump’s latest tariff threat is reminding investors that an already fragile demand outlook could worsen if the world’s two biggest economies don’t return to the negotiating table. Meanwhile, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies are set to decide on production levels at a meeting in Vienna next week.

“Trump is stirring up trade war dust,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets. The drop in U.S. inventories “is positive in the longer term, but this market is very focused on what’s more prompt,” he said.

West Texas Intermediate for August delivery fell 24 cents, or 0.4%, to $59.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 7:19 a.m. in London after dropping as much as 63 cents earlier. The contract peaked at $59.93 on Wednesday, the highest intraday level since May 23.

Brent for August settlement lost 23 cents, or 0.4%, to $66.26 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Europe Exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $7.12 to WTI.

Trump will meet with Xi on Saturday morning in Osaka, according to the White House. “My Plan B with China is to take in billions and billions of dollars a month and we’ll do less and less business with them,” Trump said Wednesday during an interview with Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo. The U.S. president has previously said he may decide to raise tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports if he doesn’t like what he hears from Xi.

American nationwide oil stockpiles fell by 12.8 million barrels, or 2.7%, to about 470 million barrels in the week through June 21, EIA data showed. That was the biggest decline in percentage terms since July 6, 2018, and the largest drop in volumes since September 2016. Inventories of crude and refined products rose to a record, while imports fell.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Sharon Cho in Singapore at ccho28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Serene Cheong at scheong20@bloomberg.net
Andrew Janes, Ben Sharples


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