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Crude oil futures rise as tension eases on US-China trade spat

Singapore — Crude oil futures were higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Thursday on profit-taking, after prices fell by more than $1/b in the previous day on signs of easing geopolitical tensions.

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Positive signs coming out ahead of US and China trade talks also helped to support prices Thursday morning, said analysts.

At 10:15 am in Singapore (0215 GMT), ICE Brent November futures moved 44 cents/b (0.72%) higher from Wednesday's settle at $61.25/b, while the NYMEX October light sweet crude futures contract was up 47 cents/b (0.84%) at $56.22/b.

Crude prices slumped during Wednesday's trading session after US President Donald Trump fired the National Security Advisor, John Bolton.

"The removal of Bolton has given Trump more scope to pursue a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani," said ANZ analysts in a note Thursday.

According to media reports, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Munchin was in favor of opening talks with Iran, while Bolton was on the opposite side. "Even that slight hint of easing spooked the market, with Brent futures subsequently falling sharply," ANZ analysts added.

Meanwhile, signs of easing trade tensions between the US and China fueled bullish sentiment.

Beijing emerged with a tariff exemption list for American imports on Wednesday, ahead of the next round of trade talks between the two countries. Trade negotiators from both countries will meet in Washington in mid-September, with further talks to follow in October.

"US-China trade tension eased slightly as both sides try to send a friendly signal ahead of their face-to-face talks next week," said Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank.

"With this slight improvement in conditions for the US-China trade issue, coupled with the anticipation of the suite of stimulus from the series of central banks, Asia markets are expected to be fired up into the Thursday trading day," said Pan Jingyi, IG market strategist.

Meanwhile, market participants were on the lookout for the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee meeting between OPEC and its allies scheduled on Thursday at Abu Dhabi.

As of 0215 GMT, the US Dollar Index was up 0.02% at 98.64.

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

--Edited by Nurul Darni, nurul.indriani.darni@spglobal.com