Oil barrels sit stacked inside the polyethylene plant of the Ecopetrol SA refinery in Barrancabermeja, Santander, Colombia. (Photographer: Nicolo Filippo Rosso/Bloomberg)

Oil Posts Third Weekly Drop as Trump Issues New Trade Threats

(Bloomberg) -- Oil posted a third weekly loss, as Saudi Arabia’s reassurances that it won’t flood the global crude market failed to offset a 4.2 percent price drop at the start of the week.

Futures pared gains in New York on Friday amid concern that escalating trade rows would undermine energy demand. President Donald Trump said that he’s “ready to go” with tariffs on $500 billion. He also accused China and the European Union of manipulating their currencies to keep interest rates low, causing the dollar to weaken.

Crude had risen earlier after Saudi Arabia, under pressure from Trump to lower prices by pumping more, said they will keep exports steady this month and reduce them by 100,000 barrels a day in August.

“The latest from Trump about maybe increasing the tariffs on imports from China” is raising concern, said James Williams, president of London, Arkansas-based energy researcher WTRG Economics. “If not a weaker economy here, than a weaker economy in China, that’s a big fear.”

West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery, which expired Friday, rose $1 to settle at $70.46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It has lost 0.8 percent this week. Total volume traded was about 38 percent below the 100-day average. The more-active September contract rose 2 cents to $68.26.

Crude has retreated about 5 percent this month as the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China rattled global financial markets. Trump’s tweets Friday coincided with a weakening of the dollar. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell as much as 0.8 percent, the most since March.

A weaker dollar “should increase the demand internationally for oil,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group Inc. in Chicago. “A break in the dollar is a big help.”

The drop in the price of oil this week was aided by Libya restoring halted output and the U.S. signaling it may show some flexibility in sanctions on Iranian oil. That’s prompted concern the extra crude promised by Saudi Arabia might not yet be needed.

The U.S. oil benchmark closed above its 50-day moving average on Thursday after slipping below that level earlier this week.

Oil Posts Third Weekly Drop as Trump Issues New Trade Threats

Brent for September settlement rose 49 cents to $73.07 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract is down 3 percent this week. The global benchmark traded at a $4.81 premium to WTI for the same month.

Saudi Arabia’s pledge to keep its crude exports steady from June to July, and reduce it in August, follows an agreement last month between OPEC and its partners including Russia to boost production by 1 million barrels a day. The kingdom’s assurance clashes with signals it gave out shortly after last month’s OPEC meeting, when people briefed on its output policy said it planned record production of 10.8 million barrels a day.

Oil-market news:

  • Oil exports from OPEC will decline to 24.38 million barrels a day in the four weeks ending Aug. 4 compared with the period that ended July 7, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements.
  • Shell is preparing to start the Knarr oil field in Norway after strikes by workers were called off, spokeswoman Kitty Eide said. The field produced about 23,000 barrels a day of crude in April, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.
  • China’s largest refiner, Sinopec, has yet to purchase any U.S. crude for August because the economics aren’t favorable, according to a person familiar with the matter.
  • Gasoline futures are down 1.8 percent this week to $2.0690 a gallon, the third consecutive weekly drop.

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