Oil falls as U.S.-China trade fears overshadow supply drop

Hossein Fereidoun brother and top aide of moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sits in a conference in Tehran Iran. Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency says President Hassan Rouhani’s brot

Brent for July settlement gained 2 cents to $70.39 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported that US crude inventories fell 4 million barrels last week, a far cry from a Reuters poll predicting a 1.2 million barrel build; as a result, Brent rose 49 cents to settle at $70.37 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate settled up 72 cents at $62.12.

In gasoline inventories, the EIA reported an estimated fall of 600,000 barrels for last week, after a 900,000-barrel increase two weeks ago.

WTI (futures on Comex) is seen struggling to extend the recovery above the 62 handle, having reversed a sharp drop to 61.35 levels after a fresh risk-aversion wave gripped the European markets on the Yonhap report that North Korea fired unknown projectiles.

China's crude oil imports in April surged to a record despite refinery maintenance outages and tepid domestic fuel demand, customs data showed, as state-run refiners built up stocks of Iranian crude oil.

Meanwhile, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, continued a dismal run, falling 0.16 percent to 739.64 tonnes on Monday, its lowest level since October 11.

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US President Donald Trump had threatened the duties after China backtracked on a trade deal.

The White House said it was working with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure oil markets received maintained sufficient supplies. China's commerce ministry confirmed on Tuesday that Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States from May 9-10 for bilateral trade talks at the invitation of senior USA officials.

Sources said that while the Saudi offer of increased oil quantity has generally been welcomed by domestic oil companies as it will help alleviate the squeeze driven by U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, the supply is unlikely to be made on terms given by Iran.

"So people have been bearish because of that".

Most analysts expect Iran's crude exports to fall to little more than 500,000 bpd, down from around one million bpd in April, as governments largely bow to US pressure. "We should increase production and raise our (non-oil) exports and resist America's plots against the sale of our oil".

"Based on such requests, Saudi oil production for the month of June is expected to remain below its OPEC+ commitment, while exports will also stay under 7 million barrels per day".

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