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Oil prices steady as concerns about producer output outweigh U.S. stockpile gain

22 September 2018

The longer-term outlook remains weighed down, however, by an escalation in the China-U.S. trade war that has clouded the outlook for crude demand.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 94 cents, or 1.4%, at $69.85/Bbl, off a session high of $70.42/Bbl. Washington aims to cut Iran's oil exports down to zero to force Tehran to re-negotiate a nuclear deal.

Novak said OPEC+ would also discuss supply and demand forecasts for the fourth quarter.

On Tuesday, China said it had no choice but to retaliate against new US trade measures after US President Donald Trump imposed 10 per cent tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Brent crude futures dropped 44 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $77.61 per barrel by 0424 GMT. "The impact on economic growth is slowly dripping in, which again hurts oil prices", said Wang Xiao, head of crude research at Guotai Junan Futures.

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Iran's oil exports have been falling in recent months as more buyers, including its second-largest buyer India, cut imports ahead of US sanctions that take effect in November.

In addition to these obvious supply issues, trade disputes and financial woes in emerging market countries may affect crude demand.

Bloomberg's report explained that Iranian oil exports reached less than 2 million barrels per day in August, which could push prices to more than $ 80 per barrel.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed Saudi sources, that the kingdom was now comfortable with prices above US$80 per barrel, at least for the short term.

"The U.S. -China trade tension restricts oil from rising further, while optimism over Saudi and Russian Federation making up for Iran's losses is keeping prices from falling lower", Ahn Yea Ha, a commodities analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co., said by phone from Seoul.

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Oil prices rose on Monday as investors focused on the impact of USA sanctions on Iran despite assurances by Washington that Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States could together raise output fast enough to offset falling supplies.

Meanwhile, oil output from seven major U.S. shale formations is expected to rise by 79,000 barrels per day to 7.6 million bpd in October, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Monday.

"Iran is not only a founding member of OPEC, it's a very important member of this organization".

Also weighing on oil prices, USA drillers added two oil rigs in the week to December 1, bringing the total count up to 749, the highest since September, Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday.

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Oil prices steady as concerns about producer output outweigh U.S. stockpile gain