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Oil slips toward $60 on U.S. inventory rise, but trade hopes support

Oil slipped toward 60 dollars a barrel on Thursday after a report showed U.S. crude inventories rose unexpectedly, although hopes of progress in resolving the U.S.-China trade row lent support.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, on Wednesday said U.S. crude stockpiles rose by 400,000 barrels last week, while analysts had expected a fall.

The government’s official supply report is due out later on Thursday.

Benchmark Brent crude was down 25 cents at 60.45 dollars a barrel by 0821 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 39 cents to 55.87 dollars.

“Oil prices remain range-bound despite yesterday’s rally,” said OANDA analyst Craig Erlam.

“API reported a modest increase in inventories on Wednesday, which failed to do much for oil prices.”

Crude had gained more than four per cent on Wednesday as positive Chinese economic data sparked a wider market rally.

On Thursday, China’s commerce ministry said Beijing and Washington agreed to hold high-level trade talks in early October.

The prolonged trade dispute has been a dampener on oil prices but Brent is still up 12 per cent this year, helped by production cuts led by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia.

Nonetheless, both OPEC and Russia boosted production in August, according to a Reuters survey and Russian energy ministry figures, weighing on prices.

Also putting downward pressure on prices has been mounting evidence of slowing economic growth worldwide, which has prompted analysts to lower forecasts for oil demand growth.

BP Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary told Reuters on Wednesday that global oil demand was expected to grow by less than 1 million barrels per day in 2019, a slowing from previous years.

Later on Thursday, attention will focus on U.S. government weekly inventory figures from the Energy Information Administration to see if they confirm API’s view on inventory changes. The EIA report is due out at 1500 GMT.

Analysts expect crude stocks fell by 2.5 million barrels in the week to Aug. 30.

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