Crude stalled close to a seven-week low as concern that the U.S.-China trade war will weaken global energy demand defused apprehension about the fate of Iranian oil exports as sanctions push OPEC’s third-largest producer toward economic chaos.
Futures in New York traded in a 92-cent range on Thursday following Wednesday’s 3.2 percent slump. Iran is in the midst of a currency collapse, water shortages and deadly street protests as U.S. sanctions isolate the regime and some of the Islamic Republic’s biggest oil buyers look elsewhere for supplies. Meanwhile, the intensifying dispute between the world’s largest economies imperiled economic growth.
“For every comment on the trade war, there’s also a comment on Iran,” said Bob Yawger, director of futures division at Mizuho Securities USA LLC. “They tend to cancel each other out to a certain degree and the market tends to whipsaw back and forth.”
Crude has traded below $70 a barrel this month in New York as the U.S.-China trade dispute threatened worldwide demand for oil-derived fuels. Iran’s situation is expected to grow more precarious as a November deadline approaches for a more restrictive round of U.S. sanctions.
West Texas Intermediate crude for September delivery added 17 cents to $67.11 a barrel at 10:49 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Total volume traded was about 19 percent below the 100-day average.
A measure of oil market volatility slipped to the lowest level since March.
Brent for October settlement climbed 39 cents to $72.67 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a $6.17 premium to WTI for the same month.
China will apply 25 percent tariffs on American diesel, gasoline, propane and other petroleum products, according to the country’s commerce ministry. While crude has been spared this time, the Asian nation may impose duties at a later date if U.S. President Donald Trump doesn’t back down, according to Li Li, a research director at ICIS-China.
“The fears of a slowdown in trade activities spilling over to the oil market weighed on prices,” said Michael Poulsen, an analyst at Global Risk Management Ltd. “A slowdown in the world’s two largest economies could affect demand for oil.”
- Gasoline futures slid 0.5 percent to $2.0102 a gallon.
- The new U.S. sanctions may put Russia’s longer-term crude production potential at risk.
- One of Iran’s biggest oil customers is buying more U.S. crude as Trump sticks to his pledge to squeeze the Persian Gulf nation’s energy trade. State-run refiner Indian Oil Corp. signed a term tender to purchase American oil for delivery every month between November and January.