Oil Barely Changed After Swings on U.S.-China Trade Deal Odds
By Barani Krishnan
Investing.com – It ain’t over til the Chinese lady sings. The tweaked saying might be most apt to reflect China’s influence now over world trade and global markets, as oil prices swung again Friday on the odds of a U.S.-Sino trade deal happening.
West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark for New York-traded crude, and London’s Brent, the global gauge for oil, moved as much as 3% between the highs and lows of the session in one of their wildest variances in a day since September.
At 1:00 PM ET, WTI was up just 2 cents at $57.17 per barrel after swinging by $1.60. It settled up 1.4% on Thursday and dropped 1.5% on Wednesday after rallying nearly 6% over three previous sessions.
London’s Brent crude traded up 4 cents at $62.33 after a swing of more than $1.80. It settled up 0.9% on Thursday after a 2% drop on Wednesday and a run-up of almost 5% in three days prior.
“Oil is making a series of daily reversals,” observed Olivier Jakob of Zug, Switzerland-based oil risk consultancy PetroMatrix.
“The headlines of Wednesday were about delays to a possible meeting between (U.S. President Donald) Trump and (Chinese President) Xi (Jinping). The headline yesterday morning was that a framework agreement had been found; the headline yesterday evening was that there was some internal resistance in the US administration for that agreement. Today we will surely get more contradictory headlines about China.”
True enough, Trump poured cold water on optimism that it was a matter of when and not if for a trade deal after remarks from Chinese commerce minister Gao Feng a day ago that Beijing and Washington have agreed to phase out their tit-for-tat tariffs.
“They’d like to have a rollback, I haven’t agreed to anything,” Trump told reporters Friday. “China would like to get somewhat of a rollback -- not a complete rollback, because they know I won’t do it.”
For added measure, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said after Gao’s remarks on Thursday that “if there’s a phase one trade deal, there are going to be tariff agreements and concessions.”
In oil’s bigger picture, China was again a dominant factor, with figures showing Chinese crude imports in October reached a new record high of 10.7 million barrels per day, up 1.5 million from a year ago. On a three-month average, imports were 1.11 million higher than a year ago.
Also of significance, U.S. energy firms reduced the number of operating oil rigs for a third week in a row. There are 684 oil rigs in operation now, the lowest since April 2017, after drillers cut seven rigs this week, industry firm Baker Hughes showed.