Brent rises on supply concerns, U.S.-China trade worries weigh

 Brent rises on supply concerns, U.S.-China trade worries weigh

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Brent crude prices settled slightly higher on Tuesday after a volatile session in which potential supply concerns surrounding Venezuela and Iran jockeyed with comments from President Donald Trump saying he was not pleased with U.S.-China trade talks.

Brent crude futures rose 35 cents to settle at $79.57 a barrel, a 0.44 percent gain. Last week, the global benchmark topped $80 for the first time since November 2014.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 11 cents to settle at $72.13 a barrel, a 0.15 percent loss. They earlier touched $72.83 a barrel, the highest since November 2014.

Futures pulled back from session highs in afternoon trading after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was not pleased with recent trade talks between the United States and China, but kept the door open for further negotiations.

"Trade is positive for energy demand," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. "If we get into a trade war, it could potentially slow economic growth."

Further weighing on prices, Trump also said on Tuesday there was a "substantial chance" his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will not take place as planned on June 12 amid concerns that Kim is resistant to giving up his nuclear weapons.

The U.S. government imposed new sanctions on Venezuela following Sunday's re-election of President Nicolas Maduro, a move that analysts say could further curb the country's oil output, already at its lowest in decades.

Also supporting prices is the concern about a potential drop in Iranian oil exports following Washington's exit from a nuclear arms control deal with Tehran.

On Monday, the United States demanded Iran make sweeping changes - from dropping its nuclear program to pulling out of the Syrian civil war - or face severe economic sanctions. Iran dismissed Washington's ultimatum and one senior Iranian official said it showed the United States is seeking "regime change" in Iran.

Venezuela and Iran are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which with its allies has curbed production since January 2017 to get rid of a supply glut that in mid-2014 led to a price collapse.

OPEC may decide to raise oil output as soon as June due to worries over Iranian and Venezuelan supply and after Washington raised concerns the oil rally was going too far, OPEC and oil industry sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

The OPEC-led supply curbs have largely cleared an inventory surplus in industrialised countries based on the deal's original goals, and stocks continue to decline.

U.S. crude stockpiles are forecast to have declined by 1.6 million barrels last week, which would be the third straight weekly fall. [nL2N1ST18Y] The American Petroleum Institute's inventory report for the period is due at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT). [EIA/S]

Limiting the upward pressure on prices is rising supply in the United States, where shale production is forecast to hit a record high in June.

(Additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London and Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Chris Reese)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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Updated Date: May 23, 2018 02:05:25 IST