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Crude oil futures steady on US-China signing delay, US stock build

Singapore — Crude oil futures were steady in mid-morning trade in Asia Thursday as investors digested news of a delay in the signing of a US-China trade deal and a bigger-than-expected increase in US crude stocks.

At 10:47 am Singapore time (0247 GMT), ICE January Brent crude futures was 2 cents/b (0.03%) higher from Wednesday's settle at $61.76/b, while the NYMEX December light sweet crude contract inched a cent (0.02%) higher at $56.36/b.

"Asian markets may trade sideways today as investor digest the possibility that the phase one US-China trade agreement may not materialize till December," OCBC analysts wrote in their report on Thursday.

News emerged late Wednesday that a meeting between the US and China to sign the phase one of a trade deal could be delayed to December.

"Risk sentiment can be seen dampened with the lack of sustained positive news streaming in on US-China trade, with the latest reports of a delay to the 'Phase One' deal signing to December casting some shadows on the matter," Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG, wrote in a note on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the US Energy Information Administration has reported a bigger-than-expected crude stock build of 7.9 million barrels for the week ending November 1. The increase in inventories was attributed to a drop in US crude exports as well as a drop in crude runs.

The increase in crude stock exceeded analysts' expectations of a 2.7 million barrel build, according to an S&P Global Platts survey earlier in the week.

The ongoing trade dispute with China could significantly hinder US crude oil export growth, as US producers lose access to a top demand market, participants at a US Association for Energy Economics conference said this week.

"China's the big growth in demand," Horace Hobbs, Phillips 66's chief economist, said during a panel earlier this week. "The whole focus of US exports will eventually somehow have to get back to China."

As of 0247 GMT, the US dollar index was slightly higher at 97.845.

--Ada Taib,

--Edited by Norazlina Juma'at,