Oil prices rise on cooling US inflation, China trade data
SINGAPORE -Oil prices climbed on Thursday after U.S. inflation and economic data sparked hopes that the Federal Reserve may have fewer interest rate hikes in store and Chinese trade figures showed monthly oil imports were the second-highest on record in June.
Brent crude futures gained 21 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $80.32 per barrel by 0630 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $75.88.
U.S. data on Wednesday showed consumer prices rose modestly in June, registering the smallest annual increase in more than two years. Markets expect one more interest rate rise, but oil traders hope that may be it because higher rates can slow economic growth and reduce oil demand.
“The lower-than-expected read in U.S. inflation suggests that the tightening cycle from the Fed so far is having its desired effect in moderating pricing pressures,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG, adding this had provided a “risk-on” environment for oil prices.
“Some catch-up gains seem to be at play, with the lackluster U.S. dollar and some follow-through in China’s stimulus hopes lately providing the catalysts for bearish sentiments to unwind,” Yeap said.
Meanwhile, China’s crude imports in June totaled 52.06 million metric tons, or 12.67 million barrels per day (bpd), jumping 45.3 percent on the year and hitting its second highest monthly figure on record, customs data released on Thursday showed.
Crude oil imports for January-June were up 11.7 percent at 282.1 million metric tons, while refined oil products exports for January-June were up 44.7 percent at 31.31 million metric tons, customs data showed.
However, sluggish global economic growth, slowing world trade and investment and geopolitical risks continue to impact China’s trade, Lv Daliang, a General Administration of Customs spokesperson, said on Thursday.
Another factor capping price gains was a U.S. Energy Information Administration report of a much bigger-than-expected U.S. crude stock build of nearly 6 million barrels last week.
Gasoline inventories remained largely unchanged at 219.5 million barrels during the Fourth of July holiday week, a situation that is “almost unheard of,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures group.
Analysts had expected a big drawdown of gasoline stocks as drivers took to the roads for holiday travel.