By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices steadied early on Tuesday as traders closed short positions and took on new longs after markets tumbled in the previous session.
Crude prices fell on Monday with the onset of lower demand autumn trading and as weak economic data out of China and soft gasoline prices pressured the market.
A broker said Tuesday’s gains were mainly driven by market participants with short positions locking in profit following Monday’s falls, while other traders took the price fall as an opportunity to place new orders.
Front-month U.S. crude futures were trading at $ 44.30 per barrel at 0029 GMT on Tuesday, up 30 cents from their last settlement. Internationally traded Brent futures were up 32 cents at $ 46.69 a barrel.
“This morning’s trading is not representative of fundamentals, but instead a digestion of yesterday’s moves,” said the broker.
Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro late on Monday repeated his call for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to convene a heads of state meeting and that he would present the country’s proposals to shore up oil prices to the group.
Yet Middle East producers from OPEC – who effectively control the export club – have so far pledged to maintain high output in a fight to defend market share against rising competition.
So far, they have stuck to their decision despite calls by other OPEC members, such as Venezuela, for the Middle East to cut excessive output.
Instead, there has even been growing competition amongst the lowest cost producers in the Middle East, such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, to undercut each other with discounts for supplies to their core markets in Asia.
On the demand side, Japanese manufacturers’ confidence slumped the most in a year in September to an eight-month low and is forecast to worsen further as fears of a China-led global economic slowdown grow, a Reuters poll showed.
(Editing by Ed Davies)