Oil edges up but US-China trade tensions curb gains

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Brent crude futures LCOc1 jumped $2.39, or 3.5 percent, to settle at $71.04 a barrel.

Before the rebound late on Wednesday, after the release of the Energy Information Administration (EIA) inventory data, WTI and Brent had hit two-week lows after China proposed a broad range of tariffs on USA exports, feeding fears of a trade war. Tracking the most-active futures contracts, the global benchmark marked its highest finish since December 1, 2014.

In addition, possible military action by the US and Saudi Arabia in Syria creates a high risk for safe production and exports of crude oil from the region and the kingdom, which could keep upward pressure on crude prices, experts warned.

Thanks to strong demand and relatively subdued supply, recent inventory data has mostly crude oil prices. "The odds of a coordinated response to the chemical-weapon attack in Syria (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-issues-warning-after-dozens-killed-in-apparent-chemical-weapons-attack-in-syria-2018-04-08) is making short selling more unsafe".

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, May West Texas Intermediate crude tacked on $2.09, or 3.3%, to settle at $65.51 a barrel.

Prices of both crude benchmarks have risen more than 5 percent in the past two trading days.

Meanwhile, news that Saudi Arabia is aiming for an $80 oil price offered further support, according to Flynn.

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Oil prices overall remain optimistic due to strong demand, as well as the supply curb by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russian Federation. "Usually, what the Saudis want, the Saudis get", said Flynn.

In today's volatile oil market, it can be tough to assign any single catalyst to oil price movements; often its many catalysts, other times it's an undefinable one.

"There is a risk for oil prices that China uses the bazooka option it has on US crude oil exports". It also forecast average retail gasoline prices of $2.74 a gallon for the summer driving season, up from $2.41 for the summer of 2017.

"China is the main importer (after Canada) of USA crude oil, to the tune of about 400,000 barrels per day", Petromatrix said, Reuters reported.

Industry group the American Petroleum Institute is due to release its weekly report yesterday.

That will likely make the United States the world's biggest oil producer by 2019, surpassing Russian Federation which now pumps out nearly 11 million bpd. "However, oil market fundamentals are tightening and oil prices looks set to be squeezed higher as long as OPEC+ sticks to its cuts".

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