Oil edges up as China, U.S. set for trade talks

International Brent crude oil futures were at $70.93 per barrel at 0335 GMT, up 17 cents, or 0.26 percent, from their last close

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SINGAPORE: Oil prices on Thursday recouped some of the previous day’s losses after Beijing said it would send a delegation to Washington to try to resolve trade disputes between the United States and China that have roiled global markets.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $70.93 per barrel at 0335 GMT, up 17 cents, or 0.26 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were weaker, trading down 8 cents at $64.93 a barrel amid rising U.S. crude production and storage levels.

Both benchmarks lost more than 2 percent the previous day.

Traders said Thursday’s markets were pushed up by news that a Chinese delegation led by Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen will hold talks with U.S. representatives led by Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass later in August.

China and the United States have implemented several rounds of tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s goods since the start of the year and have threatened further tariffs on exports worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Still, sentiment in oil markets was broadly cautious due to the rise in U.S. crude production and storage levels and weakness in emerging economies, especially in Asia.

Output of U.S. crude rose by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the week ending Aug. 10, to 10.9 million bpd, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) weekly production and storage report.

At the same time, U.S. crude inventory levels C-OUT-T-EIA climbed by 6.8 million barrels, to 414.19 million barrels, the EIA said.

While supply rose in the United States, Asia’s markets were showing signs of economic slowdown due to trade disputes with the United States and currency weakness, dragging on oil market sentiment.

In Japan, official data on Thursday showed a slowdown in export growth as well as a decline in crude oil imports.

Asia’s currencies also remained under pressure, with the dollar holding near 13-month peaks on Thursday as political turmoil in Turkey and concerns about China’s economic health continued to support safe-haven assets.

Providing Brent crude with some support were looming U.S. sanctions against Iran’s oil exports, set to start from November, with Asian buyers including India, South Korea and Japan already scaling back orders in anticipation.