Oil prices steady ahead of U.S. election, weak China data weighs


By Henning Gloystein | SINGAPORE

Oil prices were stable on Tuesday as financial investors and traders were cautiously positioning themselves for a win by Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential elections.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $44.97 at 0610 GMT, virtually flat from their previous settlement. The contract gained nearly 1.9 percent the previous session.

International Brent crude prices were up 8 cents at $46.23 per barrel.

“Investors piled back into the energy sector,” ANZ bank said, with polls putting Clinton ahead of her Republican competitor Donald Trump in Tuesday’s election. Clinton is seen by investors as offering greater certainty and stability.

In China, oil data released on Tuesday was weak, albeit coming down from high levels.

“Chinese oil imports … eased slightly in October but remained at elevated levels (on year),” ANZ bank said on Tuesday following the data release.

China, which vies with the United States for top spot as the biggest crude importer, bought 6.78 million barrels of oil from abroad in October, down 12.9 percent from the previous month and one of the lowest volume this year on a daily basis.

The country’s refined oil product exports jumped 24 percent on a year earlier, as the nation produced more fuel than it could absorb.

Crude prices were held back by lingering doubts over the ability of oil producers to agree on a planned output cut to prop up a market which has been dogged by two years of oversupply.

The chief executive of U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson said on Monday that global oil supplies have exceeded demand by 1 million to 2 million barrels per day since the start of 2015.

In physical oil markets, U.S. pipeline companies with operations at the heart of the country’s commercial oil industry at Cushing, Oklahoma, restarted on Monday after an earthquake late on Sunday triggered safety shutdowns.

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Joseph Radford and Tom Hogue)


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