Oil prices tumble amid trade worries

Oil prices tumble amid trade worries

Brent crude futures were up 29 cents to $68.31 a barrel at 11:27 a.m. EDT (1527 GMT).

The strength of the US dollar was a headwind for oil, said Bill Baruch, president of Blue Line Futures in Chicago. Prices erased most of their losses on Wednesday after data showed supplies stored in USA tanks shrank the most since January, in contrast to a forecast for a 2 million-barrel gain.

Oil prices fell on Wednesday after China said it would impose tariffs on a number of US goods including agricultural products, raising the prospect of a growing trade war that could impact global growth.

Brent crude futures were down 1.81 per cent at $66.89 per barrel at the time of writing, while the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was down 1.89 per cent at $62.31 per barrel.

Even after crude was propped up in February by rising geopolitical risks surrounding the United States and Middle East producer Iran, it's still struggling to recover to the highs of January, with concerns over a global trade war also weighing on prices.

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U.S. crude oil inventories decreased last week ending March 30, and the refining sector input 141,000 barrels per day more than the previous week's average, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a report on Wednesday.

"Oil prices are profiting from the general brightening of sentiment on the markets as signs emerge that the trade dispute is easing between the U.S. and China", analysts at Commerzbank said in a note.

US crude production hit a new high, but that was not enough to change the overall bullishness of the report, said Baruch. Movements in the equities markets have spilled over recently into commodities. That wiped out earlier support for prices as Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries output dropped to the lowest in a year in March. Inventories are forecast to have risen by 2 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Despite their numbers, Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia say they will set up a joint mechanism to govern OPEC and NOPEC cooperation will be set up by the end of the year, with talk at an energy conference in Baghdad suggesting that the supply freeze may have to be extended, instead of cut short.

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