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US crude falls 1.4% in delayed settle amid uncertainty on supply cuts, US-China tariffs

Key Points
  • Saudi energy minister says Russia is the only oil exporter still undecided on the need to extend an output deal among top producers.
  • Deal between the U.S. and Mexico to combat illegal migration removes the threat of U.S. tariffs on goods imported from Mexico.
  • Analysts say there are still concerns about the health of the global economy with no end in sight to the U.S. trade war with China.
Shell Oil's drilling rig Polar Pioneer in Port Angeles, Wash., on May 12, 2015.
Jason Redmond | Reuters

Oil prices settled lower after a choppy trading session on Monday, as major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia had yet to agree on extending an output-cutting deal and U.S.-China trade tensions continued to threaten demand for crude.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures settled 73 cents lower at at $53.26 per barrel, falling 1.4% on the day and settling later than usual on Monday.

Front-month Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, fell $1 per barrel, or 1.6%, to $62.29.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday that Russia was the only oil exporter still undecided on the need to extend the output deal agreed by top producers.

OPEC and some non-members, including Russia, have withheld supplies since the start of the year to prop up prices.

Moscow is considering whether further cuts could allow the United States to take Russian market share and has yet to signal whether it will continue to curb its supply.

Yet Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said there is a still a risk that oil producers pump out too much crude and prices fall sharply. Novak said he could not rule out a drop in oil prices to $30 per barrel if the global deal was not extended.

"Indeed, there are big risks of over-production. But on the whole ... we need to analyze deeper and look at how the events will develop in June in order to take a balanced decision at the joint OPEC+ meeting in July."

Many oil exporting countries have confirmed they are prepared to hold a policy meeting with OPEC in Vienna over July 2-4, instead of the scheduled date later this month, Novak said.

A deal between the United States and Mexico to combat illegal migration from Central America late last week removed the threat of U.S. tariffs on goods imported from Mexico, buoying markets on Monday.

But analysts said there were still concerns about the health of the global economy with no signs of an end in sight to the United States' trade war with China.

U.S. President Donald Trump said additional tariffs on Chinese goods were ready to kick in after the G20 summit this month if no trade deal is reached with China.

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ETF Spotlight: Oil prices steady amid concerns over demand

China's foreign ministry said that China is open for more trade talks with Washington but has nothing to announce about a possible meeting.

China's crude oil imports slipped to around 40.23 million tonnes in May, from an all-time high of 43.73 million tonnes in April, customs data showed, due to a drop in Iranian imports caused by U.S. sanctions and refinery maintenance.

"As U.S.-China tariff concerns heighten, we see more downward adjustments to world oil demand both across this year and next in providing a limiter on occasional price advances," Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates said in a note.

Barclays bank, in a note, said over the past week or so its economists had revised down their GDP growth outlook for the United States, China, India and Brazil — countries that account for more than three-quarters of their oil demand growth assumptions for this year.

"The revisions imply a 300,000 barrel per day reduction in our current global oil demand outlook of 1.3 million barrels per day year-on-year for this year," the British bank said.