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European fuel oil hi-lo contracts slide on US push-back on IMO sulfur cap

London — The European fuel oil market was shaken Friday by news that the Trump administration may strive to stagger the adoption of the International Maritime Organization's 0.5% marine sulfur cap set to begin on January 1, 2020, sources said.

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The US was concerned that fuel costs will spike, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"Trump's comments smashed the hi-lo in the paper market," a broker said.

"He is talking about dealing with the IMO sulfur cap in a more gradual fashion, so maybe the premiums will not be so steep."

The 2020 hi-lo fuel oil swap was offered at $99/mt on ICE during the morning, having been assessed at $103.25/mt on Thursday by S&P Global Platts.

The 2019 contract was heard in a spread of $32-$35/mt OTC, traders said, from a $37.50/mt assessment Thursday.

"We have seen [Trump] pull out of bigger things," a fuel oil trader said." [IMO 2020] is big to us as it is our world as such, but in comparison to the other deals he has pulled out of I think it is in keeping."

The sulfur cap in global marine fuel will be cut to 0.5% from 2020 from 3.5% currently, the IMO -- a UN body -- has ordered.

--Tamara Sleiman, tamara.sleiman@spglobal.com

--Eleni Pittalis, eleni.pittalis@spglobal.com

--Edited by Dan Lalor, daniel.lalor@spglobal.com