* U.S.-China trade disputes weigh on economic growth outlook
* Saudi Arabia crude output down 400,000 bpd in Jan -OPEC sources
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Oil markets were cautious early on
Friday, held back by concerns over a global economic slowdown but
supported by supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and U.S. sanctions
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.61
per barrel at 0046 GMT, down 3 cents from their last settlement. WTI
dropped by around 2.5 percent the previous session.
International Brent crude oil futures had yet to trade.
Weighing on financial markets, including crude oil futures, were
concerns that trade disputes between the United States and China would
remain unresolved, denting global economic growth prospects.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he did not plan to
meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a March 1 deadline set
by the two countries to achieve a trade deal.
If there is no agreement between the world's two biggest
economies, Trump has threatened to increase U.S. tariffs on Chinese
imports. Another round of talks is scheduled for next week in Beijing.
"Crude prices returned to the lows of the week as slower
growth prospects...could signal a return (of reasons) for inventories
to rise," said Edward Moya, market analyst at futures brokerage Oanda.
Despite this, traders said crude prices were prevented from
falling much further by supply cuts led by the Organization of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which were introduced late last
year and are aimed at tightening the market and propping up prices.
As part of these cuts, Saudi Arabia - the world's biggest crude
oil exporter and de-facto leader of OPEC - cut its crude output in
January by about 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.24 million bpd,
according to OPEC sources.
Another risk to oil supply comes from Venezuela after the
implementation of U.S. sanctions against the OPEC-member's petroleum
industry in late January. Analysts expect this move to knock out
300,000-500,000 bpd of exports.
Yet for the time being, the sanctions impact on international oil
markets was limited.
"The (Venezuela) disruption overall seems manageable both for
the U.S. and the global market," said Norbert Rücker, head of
commodity research at Swiss bank Julius Baer. "The oil market
sits on a comfortable cushion of supply."
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)
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