London — Crude oil futures edged higher Thursday in European trading on global supply concerns and a more positive economic outlook amid hopes of progress in the US and China trade talks, industry sources said.
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At 1208 GMT, ICE March Brent crude futures were 31 cents/b higher at $61.96/b, while the NYMEX March light sweet crude contract was stable, up 4 cents/b at $54.27/b.
"We've already seen a strong indication that OPEC is cutting supply...oil producers are already moving to reduce production," Harry Tchilinguirian, senior oil analyst at BNP Paribas, said Thursday. "You also have to take into consideration economic climate, which at the moment revolves around US and China trade talks. The outcome of these talks shapes the the global economic outlook. If the talks go well, as they have been positive so far, then risk appetite will inflate, and will in turn give a boost to equity markets."
Supply concerns stemmed from production cuts by OPEC its allies, the de facto oil embargo imposed on Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA by the US, and a lower-than-expected build in US crude inventory.
Russia has pledged to cut around 230,000 b/d from October volumes of 11.42 million b/d under the latest OPEC/non-OPEC agreement. It is planning to do so gradually, aiming to reach the target by the end of the first quarter. Oil Minister Alexander Novak said earlier Russia could not adjust output immediately due to the specifics of its climate and geology.
"[Meanwhile], the US has now sanctioned two important OPEC countries, Iran and Venezuela, from exporting oil. Iran is having difficulty reinstating their crude exports despite the waivers that were given," Tchilinguirian added.
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Furthermore, the US Energy Information Administration also reported a slight increase of 900,000 barrels in the country's crude inventory, well below analysts' expectations of a 3.1 million build, a survey conducted by S&P Global Platts Monday showed.
"The Federal Reserve demonstrating patience and flexibility is good for risk appetite," Tchilinguirian said.
"The Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged and said that it would be patient in lifting them due to the uncertainty surrounding the country's economy. In other words, its upbeat assessment of the past few months has been scaled back," PVM analysts said in a note Thursday.
"With positive news from the Fed, faith of market sentiment relies on US and China trade talks. They predicate the economic outlook," Tchilinguirian added.
The US dollar was also down 0.04% on Thursday. A weaker greenback is typically bullish for dollar-traded commodities such as crude.
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