By Koustav Samanta
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose 1% on Tuesday as traders betting on falling prices bought back contracts to lock in profits after declines over the last three sessions due to escalating trade tensions between China and the United States.
Brent prices plunged more than 8% in the three sessions from their close on July 31, with U.S. President Donald Trump vowing to impose new tariffs on Chinese imports, and China making further moves against U.S. agricultural cargoes.
The United States also responded to a decline in the Chinese yuan on Monday by branding the country a currency manipulator.
Brent fell more than 3% on Monday as traders worried the ongoing trade dispute between the world’s two biggest oil buyers would dent demand, helping to prompt Tuesday’s short-covering.
International benchmark Brent crude futures
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude
“This is more likely a correction from oversold doom and gloom positions,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at VM Markets.
The United States accused Beijing of manipulating its currency after China let the yuan drop to its lowest in more than a decade.
The People’s Bank of China’s firmer-than-expected yuan fixing on Tuesday, however, helped pull the currency away from the recent lows.
“There is large uncertainty surrounding demand … There will be a lot of attention being paid to the commentary surrounding the trade war and its developments. There’s talk of this potentially causing recession in parts of Asia and Europe,” said Harrison Fleming, research analyst at Frame Funds in Sydney.
Meanwhile, Iran has threatened to block all energy exports out of the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of global oil traffic passes, if it is unable to sell oil as promised by a 2015 nuclear deal in exchange for curbing its uranium enrichment program.
Oil prices will likely find some support later on Tuesday, with a preliminary Reuters poll showing U.S. crude oil inventories were expected to fall for an eighth consecutive week.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) is set to release its weekly inventory data at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) on Tuesday, with official government numbers to follow on Wednesday.
“Though Middle East tensions and an extended drawdown in U.S. inventories will grant support for oil prices, looming weakness in global fuel demand will impose headwinds and cap bullish gains for the near term,” said Benjamin Lu, analyst at Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures.
(Reporting by Koustav Samanta; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Tom Hogue)