Crude prices mixed ahead of Asian open Friday

Little India street scene in Singapore; taken July 2018.Little India street scene in Singapore; taken July 2018.

Crude oil prices were mixed on Friday ahead of the Asian open after disappointing weekly data on U.S. inventories and as markets awaited word on whether Washington would impose fresh tariffs on more imported goods from China.

ICE Brent was quoted down 0.83 percent at US$77.12 a barrel, while NYMEX West Texas Intermediate rose 0.16 percent to US$67.88 a barrel in after-hours trade. Brent crude oil settled down 1.00 percent at US$76.50 a barrel, while WTI fell 1.38 percent to US$67.77 a barrel.

The Trump administration is gearing up to impose tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese goods as soon as this week with Beijing expected to retaliate.

The U.S. and China have already applied tariffs to US$50 billion of each other’s goods and the next step could move ahead after a public comment period ends at midnight in Washington on Thursday.

U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 4.302 million barrels last week, more than the expected draw of 1.294 million barrels, according to data from the Energy Information Administration on Thursday.

Imports rose by 500,000 barrels, while exports declined by 271,000 barrels and production was unchanged at 11.0 million barrels per day (bpd). Gasoline inventories unexpectedly rose by 1.845 million barrels, compared with a decline of 810,000 barrels seen and distillates rose by 3.119 million barrels, against expectations for a build of 742,000 barrels.

Refinery activity rose to 96.6 percent of capacity last week, from 96.3 percent the prior week, with crude inputs averaging about 17.65 million bpd, up 81,000 barrels, EIA said.

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