China-U.S. Trade – Oil Prices Pressed Higher, Marking Fresh Three-Month Highs On Friday

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Oil prices pressed higher, marking fresh three-month highs on Friday, as investors celebrated a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s top trade representative, Vice Premier Liu He.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 50 cents, or 0.88%, at $57.46 a barrel by 9:39 AM ET (14:39 GMT), after touching $57.81 earlier, its best level since November of last year. Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., traded up 32 cents, or 0.48%, to $67.39, backing off of $67.72, which was also its best level in three months.

Markets interpreted the fact that Trump agreed to meet with Liu at 2:30 PM ET (19:30 GMT) on Friday as a sign that trade discussions were progressing and the implementation of an increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese products on March 1 would likely be delayed.

Investors have feared that the standoff between the U.S. and China could negatively impact economic growth, diminishing the demand for oil from the world’s two largest consumers. Apparent progress in negotiations this year along with OPEC-led efforts to slash production has supported the rally in oil prices, with gains of more than 20% in 2019.

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Some analysts remained cautious, however, amid a wide range of pending issues, including sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, a bottleneck in the Canadian production pipeline and maintenance difficulties in Saudi Arabia.

“Slower global growth, a resurgent dollar and record U.S. production are all weighing on prices and causing any rallies to stall relatively quickly,” OANDA market analyst Craig Erlam said. “It has recovered from its selloff late last year, but not as much as you may have expected and there does seem to be a reluctance to hop on board,” Erlam added.

Investors are also wary of escalating production in the U.S., which the Energy Information Administration reported Thursday had hit a record high of 12 million barrels per day last week. In that light, investors will pay close attention as Baker Hughes releases its weekly rig count data, an early indicator of future output, at 1 PM ET (18:00 GMT).

In other energy trading, gasoline futures slipped 0.03% to $1.6139 a gallon by 9:41 AM ET (14:41 GMT), while heating oil advanced 0.16% to $2.0396 a gallon. Lastly, natural gas futures lost 0.22% to $2.691 per million British thermal units.

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