MARKET WATCH: Crude oil benchmarks trade mixed

Brent crude oil for October settled above $60/bbl on the London market Aug. 20 while light, sweet crude oil for September gained modestly in New York to settle above $56/bbl.

Brent crude oil for October settled above $60/bbl on the London market Aug. 20 while light, sweet crude oil for September gained modestly in New York to settle above $56/bbl.

Analysts attributed the modest gains in crude oil prices to growing optimism regarding US-China trade relations. Analysts closely monitor China’s news because it’s a major oil consumer.

US officials have said they would give Chinese telecom company Huawei Technologies Co. more time to work with US customers. Officials also said the White House was preparing for a new round of trade talks with Chinese officials in Washington, DC.

Separately, US Sec. of State Mike Pompeo said Aug. 20 he believes the US-China trade war could end by the 2020 presidential election.

CNBC reported Pompeo made the comment at a private lunch in New York where he spoke to about 40 people, including economics writer Stephen Moore and Blackstone Chief Executive Officer Steve Schwarzman.

US President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on various Chinese goods while China has been retaliating with trade barriers of its own. Before the lunch, Pompeo told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that he was uncertain regarding the short-term outlook for easing US-China trade tensions.

The US Energy Information Administration was scheduled Aug. 21 to release its weekly oil and products inventory report.

Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, said he maintains a neutral outlook for oil.

“In terms of technical levels, the market will be focusing on Brent’s behavior around $61.50/bbl, the August high,” Hansen said in an Aug. 21 research note.

Energy prices

Light, sweet crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange for September delivery gained 13¢ to $56.34/bbl on Aug. 20 while the October contract decreased 1¢ to $56.13/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas price for September edged up less than 1¢ to a rounded $2.22/MMbtu.

Ultralow-sulfur diesel for September rose 2¢ to $1.85/gal. The NYMEX reformulated gasoline blendstock for September increased nearly 2¢ to a rounded $1.68/gal.

Brent crude for October increased 29¢ to $60.03/bbl. The November contract gained 36¢ to settle at $59.58/bbl.

Gas oil for September increased $2.50 to $563.50/tonne on Aug. 20.

The average for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of crudes for Aug. 20 was $59.94/bbl, up 48¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at pdittrick@endeavorb2b.com.

More in Economics & Markets