By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose by around 1 percent on Thursday, with Brent crude futures hitting a 2019-high, buoyed by hopes that the Sino-U.S. tariff dispute could end soon and as China’s trade figures including crude imports beat forecasts.
International futures were at $64.35 per barrel at 0754 GMT, up 74 cents, or 1.1 percent, from their last close. Brent hit a 2019-high of $64.43 per barrel earlier in the session.
Optimism that a trade deal could be reached between the United States and China was boosted when U.S. President Donald Trump said talks were going “very well”.
“The 90-day truce (on trade) agreed in December will run out on March 1, but given the progress of the talks there could be an extension, which is why there (is) rising optimism that the two leaders will meet later that month,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst, OANDA.
Markets were also supported by upbeat China trade data, including for crude oil.
China’s crude oil imports in January rose 4.8 percent from a year earlier, customs data showed on Thursday, to an average of 10.03 million barrels per day (bpd), the third straight month that imports have exceeded the 10 million bpd mark.
Not all data pointed to tighter market conditions and higher prices.
Climbing U.S. oil stockpiles weighed on prices. oil inventories rose last week to the highest since November 2017 as refiners cut runs to the lowest since October 2017, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories built for a fourth week in a row, rising 3.6 million barrels to 450.8 million barrels in the week to Feb. 8. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast an increase of 2.7 million barrels.
U.S. crude oil production remained at a record of 11.9 million barrels per day (bpd).
The global oil market will struggle this year to absorb fast-growing crude supply from outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), even with the group’s production cuts and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, the International Energy Agency said in a report on Wednesday.
The IEA said it expected global oil demand this year to grow by 1.4 million bpd, while non-OPEC supply will increase by 1.8 million bpd.
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