By Koustav Samanta
SINGAPORE, Dec 13 (Reuters) - U.S. oil prices edged up on
Thursday, buoyed by a drawdown in inventories and by signs of easing
trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Oil prices have also been supported by OPEC-led supply curbs
announced last week, although gains have been muted after the producer
group lowered its 2019 demand forecast.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.27
per barrel at 0020 GMT, up 0.23 percent from their last settlement.
International Brent crude oil futures had yet to trade.
"Crude oil prices rose, helped by the easing trade tension,
as well as a fall in inventories," ANZ bank said on Thursday.
"The news that China is looking to redraft its 'Made in
China' 2025 plan boosted hopes that trade talks are progressing better
China appears to be easing its high-tech industrial development
push, dubbed 'Made in China 2025', which has long irked the United
States, amid talks between the two countries to reduce trade tensions,
according to new guidance to local governments.
A drop in U.S. crude stockpiles, though less than expected, has
helped boost sentiment, analysts said.
U.S. crude inventories fell by 1.2 million barrels in the week
to Dec. 7, compared with market expectations for a decrease of 3
Meanwhile, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC) said 2019 demand for its crude would fall to 31.44 million
barrels per day, 100,000 bpd less than predicted last month and 1.53
million less than it currently produces.
This adds to the concerns of several market watchers that the
decision led by the group to cut production by 1.2 million bpd overall
might not be enough to override a glut, especially on the back of
soaring U.S. output.
"Oil markets have been concerned about the possibility of
weaker macroeconomic and oil demand growth; when combined with booming
U.S. shale output, this could keep markets oversupplied in 2019, even
with the OPEC+ cut," Societe Generale analyst Michael Wittner
said in a note.
"At this point, the OPEC+ cuts appear to have merely put a
floor under prices."
The United States, where crude production has hit a record 11.7
million bpd, is set to end 2018 as the world's top oil producer, ahead
of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
(Reporting by Koustav Samanta in Singapore Editing by Joseph Radford)
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