Oil hits $70 per barrel as China offers soothing words on trade

Oil steadies after Friday’s falls but trade disputes still weigh

A pump jack is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014.

Brent crude futures were at $67.43 a barrel, up 32c, or 0.5%. This was its largest single-day percentage gain since September. That was the highest finish for the most active contract since December 1, 2014, according to FactSet.

Those rosier forecasts from the U.S. government and the improved news-flow on the global trade front saw Brent futures for next month delivery rise 3.54% to $71.08 a barrel on the ICE, alongside a 3.54% move higher for WTI to $65.66 a barrel.

"This has been another huge day", said Bill Baruch, president of Blue Line Futures in Chicago.

Oil markets stabilised on Monday after slumping about 2% last Friday on the concern over an intensifying trade dispute between the United States and China, as well as increased USA drilling activity.

"Oil prices are towering on the heightened tension in the Middle East", said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore. "We're taking a hit with the rest of the market".

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One of the immediate factors helping to lift Brent above $70 was Trump's Monday promise to respond "forcefully" to the suspected chemical attack in Syria. Such a response is likely to increase the push for the United States to exit the Iran nuclear deal, Streible said, given Iran's support of the Syrian government.

There are also concerns that the United States could renew sanctions against Iran, a major Middle East oil producer.

Adding to rising storage levels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday that it expects domestic crude oil production in 2019 to rise by more than previously expected, driven largely by growing U.S. shale output. The dollar fell against a basket of major currencies.DXY, hitting its lowest in almost two weeks.

Meanwhile, oil prices were also supported by the dollar weakness on Tuesday as a softer greenback makes dollar-priced oil more attractive for holders of other currencies. Analysts anticipated a decline in crude and gasoline inventories.

While "there is a lot of positive news for the recent move higher in oil", said Scott Gecas, senior strategic account executive at Long Leaf Trading Group, "the biggest factor to me is last week's inventory report, [which] showed a huge 4.6 million barrel decline" in US crude stocks.

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