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Oil markets volatile as trade conflict between U.S. and China escalates

09 July 2018

Concerned that the situation will deteriorate before it gets better, Asian refiners are moving swiftly to secure supplies with South Korea leading the way. Although there is some general nervousness over the U.S. -China tit-for-tat on trade.

Oil prices steadied on Monday as an increase in US drilling, likely to lead to higher shale production, balanced evidence of tightening supply.

Meanwhile, Chinese state media has unleashed a full-on propaganda blitzkrieg, slamming Trump's government as a "gang of hoodlums", with officials vowing retaliation, while the chairman of Sinochem just become China's official leader of the anti-Trump resistance, quoting Michelle Obama's famous slogan "when they go low, we go high".

USA crude futures added 8 cents, or 0.1 per cent, to $73.88 after trading slightly lower earlier in the morning.

Top exporter Saudi Arabia told OPEC it raised oil output by nearly 500,000 barrels per day last month, OPEC sources said, a sign Riyadh wants to make up for shortages elsewhere and dampen prices. On Thursday, an executive from China's Dongming Petrochemical Group said he expected Beijing to soon impose the tariff on US oil imports.

On Friday, the USA tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods were implemented.

Beijing has said it may include a 25 percent tariff on US crude oil imports, although it has not specified a date on which it would include that duty.

In an alarming sign for Washington, and a welcome development for Iran, some locals have decided not to see which way the dice may fall.

In an early sign of future times, an executive from China's Dongming Petrochemical Group, an independent refiner from Shandong province, said his refinery had already cancelled USA crude orders.

He said his refinery had cancelled United States crude orders and would switch to Middle East or West African supplies instead.

"Shale crude is not an alternative to Iranian crude", Fielden said. "They (Chinese importers) are not going to be intimidated, or swayed by US sanctions". This means China would begin buying more oil from the Middle East or West Africa.

"Iran's exports are some 2.7 million bpd, including condensate", it noted. Together three three nations make up about 60 percent of the Persian Gulf state's exports.

The United States and China have started a trade war on Friday, introducing bilateral tariffs worth 34 billion Dollars, while not showing willingness to start talks with a view to reaching a ceasefire.

After noting that China holds about $118 trillion in USA debt, Guilfoyle pointed out that "we've got a pretty hot economy" and that China is struggling in comparison: "They have retail sales in the hole. they've got industrial production in the hole, the Shanghai Composite [stock index] is down 17 percent year-to-date".

Cutting Iran out from oil trading comes amid other disruptions.

Oil markets volatile as trade conflict between U.S. and China escalates