Oil hovers near $80, supply concern expected to underpin prices

US West Texas Intermediate crude was down 15 cents or 0.22 percent at $68.76 per barrel

The supply concerns outweighed an increase in oil inventories in the United States reported late on Tuesday.

" Oil markets are in a tug of war as Iran sanctions will continue to provide near-term support, while discussions around global demand in the wake of this morning's tariffs and speculation of further OPEC supply increases should temper upside ambitions", Oanda head of trading Stephen Innes said.

Brent crude futures had dropped 29 cents, or 0.37 percent, to $77.76 per barrel by 12.02pm.

US crude futures (CLc1) were down 6 cents at $69.79, after gaining 1.4 percent the day before.

Oil prices firmed on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia indicated it was comfortable with a higher price range ahead of a meeting between major producing countries in Algeria.

The trade dispute is raising concerns about the potential for slower growth in oil consumption, offsetting supply concerns stemming from the upcoming USA sanctions on Iran.

Iran's oil exports have been falling in recent months as more buyers, including its second-largest buyer India, cut imports ahead of USA sanctions that take effect in November.

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Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Monday that he expected the United States would soon announce tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

U.S. crude stocks increased by 1.2 million barrels according to the American Petroleum Institute (API), sharply reversing the market forecast of -2.7 million barrels, raising prospects for a widening premium in the Brent versus WTI with crude runs worsening in Europe and Asia.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry told Reuters on Friday that he did not expect any price spikes and that Saudi Arabia, the United States and Russian Federation could between them raise global output in the next 18 months.

U.S. crude futures were up $1.08 at $70.93 a barrel by 11:15 a.m. [1515 GMT], after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said crude and gasoline stockpiles fell last week. Russia, the world's largest oil producer, and other producers in OPEC have kept in place a supply agreement to maintain prices while at the same time providing enough oil to the market.

In a move heavily opposed by Iran, OPEC and other oil producers including Russian Federation agreed in June to boost crude output by around a million barrels a day, reversing course after supply cuts that had cleared a global glut and boosted prices.

Beijing on Tuesday quickly added $60 billion of US products to its import tariff list in retaliation for President Donald Trump's planned levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

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