​WTI steady near $58 as trade-deal hopes counter rising stockpiles

Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

Oil held steady as traders weighed hopes for a limited U.S.-China trade deal against a reported increase in American crude stockpiles.

Futures were little changed above $58 a barrel in New York after rising 1.1% over the previous two sessions. U.S. President Donald Trump said talks on the first phase of a trade agreement were near completion. The American Petroleum Institute reported a 3.64 million-barrel weekly gain in inventories, according to people with knowledge of the data, though a Bloomberg survey showed a decline.

Trump told reporters at the White house that the U.S. and China were “in the final throes of a very important deal,” though he told Fox News later that he was holding up the agreement to ensure better terms for America. While some sort of pact would be positive, it may not do much to revive oil demand unless existing tariffs are rolled back.

“The belief in a positive trade deal continues unabated,” PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga wrote in a report. “Outright prices are resilient.”

West Texas Intermediate for January delivery advanced 6 cents to $58.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 8:45 a.m. local time. Brent for January increased 19 cents to $64.46 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange, and traded at a $6.01 premium to WTI.

Trump’s comments followed signals from both sides that talks were back on track after negotiators from the world’s two largest economies spoke on the phone. In China, early indicators showed that the economy slowed for a seventh month in November, highlighting how the trade war is damping growth.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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