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Crude oil futures slip as market monitors US-China tensions

Singapore — 0237 GMT: Crude oil futures slipped in mid-morning trade in Asia Friday as the market turned its focus on US-China tensions after US President Donald Trump said late Thursday that he will announce new China policies on Friday.

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At 10:37 am Singapore time (0200 GMT), ICE Brent July crude futures fell 28 cents/b (0.79%) from Thursday's settle at $35.01/b, while the NYMEX July light sweet crude contract was 39 cents/b (1.17%) lower at $33.32/b.

Trump told reporters that he will be holding a news conference on Friday after China approved a national security bill for Hong Kong on Thursday.

"The suspense as to what could come out of President Donald Trump's announcement this Friday on new policies with regards to China saw the market churning into the end of week," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said in a note Friday.

Tensions between the two economic powerhouses have flared as Trump continue to lash out at China for mishandling the coronavirus outbreak.

"There are perhaps few expecting a reversal towards the exchange of trade barriers, which would be detrimental to growth and regional markets," Pan added.

Meanwhile, falling US production rig counts helped to put a floor on price declines.

US crude production continued to slide last week, with output falling 100,000 b/d to 11.4 million b/d in the week ended May 22, US Energy Information Administration data showed Thursday.

The US oil and natural gas rig count also fell by 24 this week to 333, rig data provider Enverus said on Thursday.

Nonetheless, this was countered by a build in US crude inventories, which rose by 7.93 million barrels to 534.42 million barrels last week. The build snapped back-to-back weekly declines and pushed stock levels to the highest since March 2017.

The market continues to look towards the OPEC+ meeting in June amid recent market concerns that some oil-producing countries may raise their output.