Oil steadied on Monday, trading below $69 a barrel, as concern over the U.S.-China trade dispute and global economic outlook offset support from Middle East tensions and supply cuts
Figures on Monday showed that profits for Chinese industrial companies shrank in April while new orders for U.S.-made capital goods fell more than expected in a further sign that the economy is slowing.
The main factor preventing crude prices from rising on the geopolitical news is the concern about the global economy, said Petromatrix oil analyst Olivier Jakob.
“The macroeconomic outlook does not look good,” Jakob said.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up 5 cents at $68.74 a barrel by 0839 GMT, having fallen by about 4.5% last week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 36 cents at $58.27.
Both crude contracts registered their biggest weekly price declines of the year last week. Public holidays in the United States and Britain on Monday limited participation, keeping volumes low.
Rising tension between the United States and Iran, with Washington’s announcement on Friday that it would deploy more troops to the Middle East, has had little impact on the market so far.
“This move further increases tensions in the regions, but with the U.S. and UK markets closed today and most of the geopolitical tension likely already priced in to the market, effects on crude prices may remain subdued,” JBC Energy said in a report.
Money managers cut their net long U.S. crude futures and options positions – bets on rising prices – in the week to May 21, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.
Oil supply cuts – both voluntary and those resulting from U.S. sanctions – have boosted prices this year and are still keeping a floor under prices.