Oil Prices Fall on Fears of Trade Dispute

03/02/18 10:29 AM EST
By Neanda Salvaterra and Alison Sider 

Oil prices fell Friday, weighed down by worries about a possible U.S. trade dispute with China and lingering concerns about an increase in American crude stocks.

U.S. crude futures recently traded down 37 cents, or 0.61%, to $60.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 38 cents, or 0.6%, to $63.45 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Crude futures have lost about 5% of their value this week because of a host of factors including some that were largely outside of the oil industry.

"The selloff over the past few days has been about everything but oil fundamentals," said Emily Ashford, director of energy research at Standard Chartered.

A pledge by President Donald Trump on Thursday to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports sparked worries of a looming global trade war with several countries such as China.

U.S. officials have long blamed the Asian country for flooding the world with cheap steel and aluminum because of excess capacity in its industries.

"Four straight days of selling for energy and equity markets this week suggest that fear is making a comeback in the global marketplace," analysts at TAC Energy wrote. "While the headlines are focused largely on steel, there's no doubt that oil and its products could be directly impacted, and that the country's position has changed drastically in the past few years as it transitions from the world's great importer to a key exporter of energy."

A surge in North American crude output also has the market worried, despite efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and external producers such as Russia to limit global crude production.

An unexpected increase in gasoline stockpiles last week has weighed on fuel prices and is pulling oil prices lower. The price difference between oil and fuel has been narrowing -- something that can be a bearish signal for oil prices because it could translate into lower demand from refiners, analysts said.

Gasoline futures fell 3.36 cents, or 1.77%, to $1.8628 a gallon. Diesel futures fell 2.97 cents, or 1.58%, to $1.8558 a gallon.

Write to Neanda Salvaterra at neanda.salvaterra@wsj.com and Alison Sider at alison.sider@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 02, 2018 10:29 ET (15:29 GMT)

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