Oil markets volatile as trade conflict between USA and China escalates

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Crude Oil WTI futures for delivery in August traded at $74.8 per barrel, or 0.38 percent higher from their previous close. -China tit-for-tat on trade.

The trade dispute between the United States and China is looming over oil markets. United States crude futures added 34 cents, or 0.5%, to $74.14.

"If the Saudis and others replace the losses from Iran, there will be basically no spare capacity left", Societe Generale analyst Michael Wittner said.

Although just 5 percent of China's overall crude imports, these supplies are worth $1-billion a month at current prices - a figure that seems certain to fall.

And amid an escalating tit-for-tat war between Trump and Xi in which neither leader is even remotely close to crying uncle, industry participants expect the tariff to be levied, a move which would make future purchases of United States oil uneconomical for Chinese importers.

Beijing has said it may include a 25 percent tariff on US crude oil imports, although it has not specified a date on which it would include that duty.

How close is China to imposing the tariff on USA crude oil?

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But for a crude market focused mainly on short-term impacts, analysts see nothing but gloom around the corner: in discussing the possibility of China placing a tariff on US oil, Commerzbank said in a note that "Chinese demand would then shift to other suppliers, [and] because the oil market is already in tight supply due to the numerous outages, this would drive global prices (Brent) further up". "We will switch to either Middle East or West African supplies", he said. "They can import more, but can they process it?"

The report said Hojjat al-Islam Mojtaba Zolnour, a hardline member of Iran's parliament, had made the allegation in an interview with a local newspaper.

"Iran's exports are some 2.7-million barrels a day, including condensate", it noted.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other countries agreed earlier this month to a modest increase in output to dampen a rally in oil prices, which recently hit a three-and-a-half year high.

"Indian refiners can't absorb all the US oil that was going to China".

China responded promptly and slapped duties on the same amount of value unto USA products.

They said zero-tolerance sanctions on Iran - the fourth-largest oil producer - could add $50 per barrel to crude prices, which are up more than 25 per cent this year. However, if the ongoing pipeline bottleneck in the Permian is not resolved soon, said solace will prove to be short-lived.

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