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Crude oil futures edge higher on bargain hunting, awaits fresh cues

Singapore — Crude oil futures edged higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Friday amid bargain hunting after prices sank to near two-month low the day before, and were currently moving in a tight range awaiting fresh cues to provide direction, analysts said.

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At 11:05 am in Singapore (0305 GMT), ICE Brent December futures were up 22 cents/b (0.38%) from Thursday's settle at $57.93/b, while the NYMEX November light sweet crude futures contract was 20 cents/b (0.38%) higher at $52.65/b.

"Crude has seen temporary bouts of bargain-hunting buying as prices hit two-month lows, and some extreme intraday volatility, which is befuddling to say the least," said Vandana Hari, founder Vanda Insights.

Prices touched fresh lows on Thursday after Saudi Arabia said it has restored crude production after attacks on facilities in September, wiping out the risk premium that crude prices had been carrying, analysts said.

The kingdom's wellhead crude production currently stands at 9.9 million b/d, while its production capacity has recovered to 11.3 million b/d, energy minister Abdulaziz bin Salman said.

"The [ongoing bearish] mood wasn't helped by news that Saudi Arabia has managed a speedy recovery from the recent attacks on its Abqaiq oil facility," ANZ analysts said in a note Friday.

The energy minister also said he does not see the need for OPEC and non-OPEC partners to deepen their ongoing supply cut agreement, which provided some respite to prices, analysts said.

Russian counterpart Alexander Novak told an industry conference in Moscow that the slowing world economy would likely lead to lower oil demand growth, but that it was incumbent on the US and China to resolve their trade tensions.

"Today the market is roughly balanced," Novak said. "We don't see a crisis situation. We are monitoring actively."

"The big picture, though, remains one of pessimism over the global economic momentum and oil demand growth," Hari said. "September macroeconomic data is showing a trend of growing weakness in manufacturing and services sectors across the world," she added.

The US non-manufacturing purchasing managers index for September dropped 3.8 points to 52.6, the lowest in three years, analysts quoting data from the Institute for Supply Management said Thursday.

"A week expecting stronger US data had so far been a disappointment, with the focus now tuned towards slowing economic momentum," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said. "That said, increased hopes for further interest rate cuts by the Fed look to help stabilize markets into the end of the week," she added.

"Given the series of geopolitical events in the coming days, including US-China trade talks, it may only be post the updates will we have a clearer sign on direction," Pan said.

As of 0305 GMT, the US Dollar Index was down 0.02% at 98.52.

--Avantika Ramesh, avantika.ramesh@spglobalcom

--Edited by Wendy Wells,