Oil Prices Rise as Stockpiles Plummet

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Brent crude oil futures were up 18 cents at $70.06 U.S. per barrel mid-morning Wednesday U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 37 cents to $61.77 U.S. per barrel.

Imports amounted to 43.73 million tons of crude or 10.64 million barrels per day (bpd), customs data showed.

The Trump administration is poised to tell five countries, including allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, they will no more be exempt from us sanctions should they continue to import oil from Iran, officials said Sunday.

Reuters reported the diplomats arrived in Washington late on Friday night with a 150-page draft trade agreement that would blow up the negotiations that took months to come upon between the world's two largest economies.

Gold prices firmed on Wednesday as renewed concerns on U.S.

Lack of clarity in oil fundamentals will keep Brent crude price volatility high in the next couple months, testing Goldman Sach's expected boundary range of $US70-$US75 per barrel, the bank said in a note.

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But analysts said there's little sign that China will step away from talks, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang telling reporters that "China's team is preparing to go to the United States for the discussions".

Gold demand was robust in India and Singapore last week as a correction in prices ahead of a key gold-buying festival boosted purchases even as major centres like China and Japan were closed for most of the week due to holidays.

S&P Global Platts Analytics forecasts for Iranian crude and condensate exports to fall below 500,000 barrels per day in the second half of this year, from 1.3 million barrels per day in the first quarter 2019.

-Chinese trade fight limited oil's gains as investors anxious about the global outlook for energy demand.

"The fall in crude oil inventories also came despite lowered refinery operating rates", John Kilduff, founding partner at NY energy hedge fund Again Capital, said. USA and Chinese negotiators are meeting tomorrow with the hope to avoid such an escalation of the trade war, and thus we are expecting to see further volatility to come tomorrow when the outcome of those talks emerge. This means that global supply is likely to remain tight. A smaller build should be supportive, but gains may be limited by worries over U.S.

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