Oil surges as China calms trade war jitters

US crude oil exports to Europe increasing on wider Brent  WTI spread in April

US WTI crude futures were at $67.010 a barrel, up 28c or 0.4% from their last settlement.

The prices last Friday suffered their worst weekly decline in two months after they followed plummeting equity markets amid growing fears of a trade war between the USA and China, the world's two largest economies. Crude oil inventories were significantly higher than estimates (+3.3m vs. -0.2m expected).

Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said his country would not let another supply glut surface, implying that the de-facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would continue to withhold supply.

"The relaxation of tensions between the United States and China (is) allowing oil traders to exercise their worries over geopolitics", said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader. U.S. President Donald Trump spooked markets Wednesday by suggesting a missile strike could be imminent, but he walked back that rhetoric early Thursday.

The latest Middle East-related political risk factor is related to events in Syria, where a military confrontation may be brewing with the United States on the one side and Russia, Syria and Iran on the other.

As a result, the market has shrugged off signals of bearish fundamentals, including a report from the US Energy Information Administration predicting even higher US production this year, as well as a large crude stock build in the week ended April 6.

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Crude oil markets have been heating up and this has reflected in fuel prices in India with petrol touching 4-year highs and diesel also at all-time highs.

WTI is now trading above $66.80.

OPEC, Russia and several other non-OPEC producers began to cut supply in January 2017.

OPEC, together with Russian Federation and a group of other producers, last November extended the output cuts to cover all of 2018.

OPEC is cutting output by even more than it promised and the restraint is reducing oil stocks globally, a trend most visible in the USA, the world's largest and most transparent oil market. OPEC production fell in March to an 11-month low of 32.14 million barrels a day, down 250,000 barrels a day from February, led by output declines in Venezuela and Angola, according to a survey from S&P Global Platts released Friday.

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