Oil price hit by trade war fears

Crude Oil Prices Forecast: Mixed Technical Picture

"While there was a surprise drop in USA stockpiles, we should note that they have been steadily rising since January this year", Min Byungkyu, a global market strategist at Yuanta Securities Co., said by phone in Seoul.

May WTI crude oil futures settled at $63.51, up $0.50 or +0.79%.

Nymex May oil futures ended USD1.48 lower at USD63.54 a barrel, down 2.3%. The Asian nation on Wednesday said it would levy an additional 25 percent tariff on about $50 billion of USA imports to match the scale of proposed American tariffs announced earlier.

Oil also got support from firm global equities, as the United States expressed willingness to negotiate a resolution on trade after proposed USA tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods prompted a quick response from Beijing that it would retaliate by targeting key American imports. Immediately before the Energy Information Administration's report on Wednesday both WTI and Brent hit two-week lows, pressured by the escalating trade war between China and the U.S. But oil prices rebounded sharply after the EIA reported that U.S. crude inventories dropped by 4.6 million barrels last week, despite analysts' expectations for an increase of 246,000 barrels. Trump also tried to quell trade war fears on Wednesday, Tweeting that "We are not in a trade war with China".

Brent crude futures fell $1.23 on the day to $66.89 a barrel by 0918 GMT, bringing losses for the week so far to almost 5 percent. Prices slipped 10 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $68.02 Wednesday.

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Wednesday's weekly inventory figures showed that US crude stocks unexpectedly declined by 4.6 million barrels in the most recent week.

As U.S. production levels sore, the country is exporting more of its own oil and importing less from foreign sources.

The gasoline stocks fell by 1.1 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for a 1.3 million barrels drop. The extent to which it counterbalance output cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will be critical, said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford.

The cuts run until the end of 2018 but Saudi Arabia has said they could be extended in some form into 2019.

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