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Crude oil futures rise on OPEC report, trade uncertainty

Singapore — Crude oil futures were higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Monday, finding support from OPEC's latest monthly oil market report while uncertainty on the ongoing trade tensions between the US and China also provided some volatility to crude prices.

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At 11:20 am in Singapore (0320 GMT), ICE Brent October futures were up 63 cents/b (1.07%) from Friday's settle at $59.27/b, while the front-month NYMEX September light sweet crude futures contract was 53 cents/b (0.97%) higher at $55.40/b.

OPEC on Friday published in its monthly oil market report that it pumped 29.61 million b/d of crude in July, down 8.2% from June. Many countries were far below the quotas they committed to under a deal aimed at bolstering oil prices, with Saudi Arabia pumping 9.7 million b/d in July, its lowest in five years.

"While the outlook for market fundamentals seems somewhat bearish for the rest of the year, given softening economic growth, ongoing global trade issues and slowing oil demand growth, it remains critical to closely monitor the supply/demand balance and assist market stability in the months ahead," OPEC said in the report.

OPEC's analysts raised their projections of global demand for the bloc's crude to 31.66 million b/d in the third quarter and 30.17 million b/d in Q4, indicating if OPEC members maintain their current production levels, oil inventories should see a significant fall.

The call on OPEC crude is, however, estimated to retreat to 28.85 million b/d in Q1 2020 and 29.39 million b/d in Q2, the report estimated.

Prices also reacted positively to comments made by US President Donald Trump on the ongoing trade spat between the US and China.

According to media reports, Trump said he is looking to engage with Chinese President Xi Jinping over a phone call "very soon."

Early August, Trump had said the US will impose 10% tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese imports from September 1, while China responded that it will take retaliatory action.

"[Trump's latest comments] helped soothe concerns that the trade talks were spiraling out of control amid weakening economic data," ANZ analysts said in a note Monday.

"However, we see these concerns of weaker economic growth remaining, which is likely to continue to weigh on crude oil prices," they added.

As of 0302 GMT, the US Dollar Index was up 0.08% at 98.075

--Avantika Ramesh, avantika.ramesh@spglobal.com

--Edited by Geetha Narayanasamy, geetha.narayanasamy@spglobal.com