Oil hits $70 per barrel as China offers soothing words on trade

Oil hits $70 per barrel as China offers soothing words on trade

Commodities were on a tear on Tuesday as trade war concerns ebbed and the US Department of Energy bumped up its short-term forecasts for Brent and West Texas Intermediate.

Oil hit US$70 a barrel today, in its biggest two-day rally in almost a month, as investors grew more confident that a brewing trade dispute between the United States and China may be resolved without causing harm to the global economy.

President Xi Jinping on Tuesday promised to open China's economy further and lower import tariffs, striking a conciliatory tone on the trade tensions between his country and the United States.

The president met with military officials in the White House Monday to discuss the administration's response to an alleged chemical weapons attack carried out by Syrian President Bashar Assad 's government against its own people.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 jumped $2.39, or 3.5 percent, to settle at $71.04 a barrel.

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The Syrian opposition blamed the suspected chemical attack on Saturday in the town of Douma on government forces. SANA reported that there were deaths and injuries as a result of the attack but did not give exact figures.

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US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for the May contract edged higher by 1.2 percent to $64.22 per barrel, while worldwide benchmark Brent futures for June delivery climbed by 1.2 percent to $69.53 per barrel. Adding to the tensions, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Tuesday that the country could be a part of an global response to the Syrian violence, Reuters reported.

Traders said weekly US fuel inventory data would provide further market guidance. The "market [also] bounced this morning after the Chinese president's more dovish comments on the trade war". This was its largest single-day percentage gain since September.

Concerns about a trade war between the U.S. and China also eased some more after President Donald Trump struck a more conciliatory tone, saying on Twitter on Tuesday that he will "make great progress together" with China's president, Xi Jinping. Xi's comments likely sought to temper growing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, which have been announcing tit-for-tat tariffs over the past two weeks.

Additionally, decreased demand from US Gulf Coast refineries amid spring turnaround season has left more volume available for the export market. Because oil is dollar-priced, a stronger greenback makes purchases in other currencies more expensive. The minister said he would seek an extension to the OPEC-Russia deal, which expires in December.

Oil markets have generally been supported by healthy demand as well as supply restraint led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

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