Oil mixed as U.S.-China trade worries linger

Oil futures were mixed on Monday, with the U.S. benchmark holding a slight advance and the global benchmark off slightly, as investors focused on worries about slowing global growth and looked for clues to the next move by OPEC and its allies on output curbs.

West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery CLN19, +0.37% on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 8 cents, or 0.1%, to $54.06 a barrel, while August Brent crude BRNQ19, -0.14% fell 7 cents, or 0.1%, to $63.22 a barrel.

Crude ended last week on a positive note after the U.S. benchmark fell into a bear market at midweek.

“Statements from the Saudi government late last week alluded to OPEC and partners being close to an agreement to extend oil supply constraint beyond June, while mentioning the need to keep cuts at around current levels,” wrote analysts at JBC Energy, a Vienna-based consulting firm.

A fall in the number of active U.S. oil rigs last week, as reported by Baker Hughes on Friday, also provided support, they said.

Uncertainty remains around prospects for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, and its allies, particularly Russia, extending an agreement to curb output that took effect at the beginning of the year. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Monday said he couldn’t rule out a scenario in which oil falls to $30 a barrel if a global agreement wasn’t extended, according to Reuters.

The JBC analysts said oil was underpinned by the Trump administration’s decision late Friday to shelve escalating tariffs against Mexico after reaching an immigration deal, but uncertainty surrounding U.S.-China trade tensions remains an overhang, analysts said.

In other energy trading, July gasoline futures RBN19, +0.12% were off 0.18 cent, or 0.1%, to $1.7371 a gallon, while July heating oil HON19, +0.04% rose 0.23 cent, or 0.1%, to $1.8271 a gallon.

Natural-gas futures for July delivery NGN19, +0.30% were off 0.3 cent, or 0.1%, to $2.334 per million British thermal units.

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