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Oil prices fall as China economic data disappoints, US inventories gain

A pump jack operates in the Permian Basin oil and natural gas production area near Odessa, Texas, US Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Tokyo/Singapore Aug 14, 2019, 03.56 PM (IST)

Oil prices fell on Wednesday on disappointing economic data from China and a rise in US crude inventories, erasing some of the sharp gains in the previous session after the US said it would delay tariffs on some Chinese products, easing trade tensions.

Brent crude was down 46 cents, or 0.8 per cents, at $60.84 a barrel at 0639 GMT, after rising 4.7 per cents on Tuesday, the biggest percentage gain since December.

US oil was down 62 cents, or 1.1per cents, at $56.48 a barrel, having risen 4per cents the previous session, the most in just over a month.

China reported a raft of unexpectedly weak data for July, including a surprise drop in industrial output growth to a more than 17-year low, underlining widening economic cracks as the trade war with the United States intensifies.

"Deteriorating China industrial output and consumer spending suggest the fundamental picture isn't great and the demand for energy may be under the pressure," said Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets.

Profit-taking after Tuesday's sharp gains also weighed on crude prices on Wednesday, analysts said.

"The moves in oil were so outsized overnight, that some profit-taking in Asia was logical," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

Benchmark crude prices surged on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump backed off his Sept. 1 deadline for 10per cents tariffs on some products affecting about half of the $300 billion target list of Chinese goods.

But with about $110 billion worth of Chinese imports still subject to the tariffs increase next month, the delay will not solve the core issues between the US and China, said Yang.

"Markets will perhaps soon come down to earth and face the reality of a world of elevated trade tariffs, slower growth and policy inconsistency," Yang said.

Markets have been pummelled in recent weeks amid tough talk from Trump on trade.

China's commerce ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that US and Chinese trade officials spoke on the phone and agreed to talk again within two weeks.

Data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed US crude stocks unexpectedly rose last week.

Crude inventories increased by 3.7 million barrels to 443 million, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 2.8 million barrels, the API said.

Story highlights

US oil was down 62 cents, or 1.1per cents, at $56.48 a barrel, having risen 4per cents the previous session, the most in just over a month.