Oil down on US data
LONDON, March 8, 2018 – Crude oil prices turned lower on Thursday, as traders were still digesting the previous session’s downbeat U.S. supply data amid sustained fears over a global trade war.
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude April contract was down 37 cents or about 0.61% at $60.80 a barrel by 09:55 a.m. ET (12:55 GMT), off session highs of $61.40.
Elsewhere, Brent oil for May delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London declined 45 cents or about 0.70% to $63.89 a barrel, after rising to $63.88 earlier in the day.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday that crude oil inventories rose by 2.408 million barrels for the week ended March 2.
While that was below expectations for a rise of 2.723 million barrels, it was the second-straight weekly build in crude stockpiles, adding to concerns that rising U.S. output could dampen global efforts to rid the market of excess supplies.
The International Energy Agency upwardly revised U.S. oil output growth earlier in the week, saying the country would be producing a total of nearly 17 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2023.
U.S. crude oil production has already surpassed that of top exporter Saudi Arabia to 10.28 million bpd.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with some non-OPEC members led by Russia, agreed in December to extend oil output cuts until the end of 2018.
Markets were also jittery as U.S. President Donald Trump was expected to give more details later Thursday on his plans to impose tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports in a recommitment to his nationalist trade agenda.
Sentiment waned after Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn announced his resignation on Tuesday. The decision was said to have been made following a disgreement between Cohn and the U.S. President over the import tariffs.
Traders fear that the proposed tariffs could spark inflation and provoke retaliation from U.S. trade partners. Major holders of U.S. Treasuries, including China and the European Union, could reduce their holdings of U.S. assets in response.
The White House said late Wednesday that Canada, Mexico and possibly other countries may be exempted at least for a while from the proposed tariffs.
Elsewhere, gasoline futures lost 1.59% to $1.886 a gallon, while natural gas futures retreated 1.01% to $2.750 per million British thermal units.