Commodity News
HeadLine : Oil steady on trade pact optimism, stock draw; eyes on MidEast
Date : Dec 30 2019
Oil prices hovered around three-month highs on Monday following a higher-than-expected crude inventory drawdown and optimism over an expected U.S-China trade deal, while traders kept a close eye on Middle East unrest. Markets showed little immediate reaction to news of U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria against an Iran-backed militia group, even as U.S. officials warned "additional actions" may be taken. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures (CLc1) edged up 1 cent to $61.73 a barrel. The U.S. benchmark is up about 36% so far this year. China's Commerce Ministry said on Sunday that it is in close touch with the United States on the signing of a long-awaited trade deal. The two countries on Dec. 13 announced a "Phase one" agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs in exchange for what U.S. officials said would be a big jump in Chinese purchases of American farm products and other goods. Oil prices were also supported by a bigger than expected fall in U.S. crude stocks. U.S. stockpiles fell by 5.5 million barrels in the week to Dec. 20, far exceeding a 1.7-million-barrel drop forecast in a Reuters poll. In the Middle East, protesters on Saturday forced the closure of Iraq's southern Nassiriya oilfield, while United States carried out air strikes on Sunday in Iraq and Syria against the Kataib Hezbollah militia group. U.S. officials said the air strikes in response to the killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base were successful, but warned that "additional actions" may still be taken.

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