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Oil Heads for Back-to-Back Weekly Gain on Hints of Trade Thaw

Oil headed for its first back-to-back weekly gain since June on signs the U.S. and China could be edging closer to a trade deal and as a growing list of central banks start easing policy to shore up growth.
Futures in New York edged higher on Friday and are up 1% this week. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will speak Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming amid expectations for another U.S. rate cut next month. The American economy has been flashing recessionary warning signs, spurring speculation that President Donald Trump will strike a deal with China to bolster his re-election chances.
Oil prices have recovered since a steep drop in early August as the U.S.-China trade conflict threatened to morph into a currency war. The White House has struck a softer tone since then, delaying the imposition of some tariffs and signaling more meetings are planned. Meanwhile, a looming U.S. sanctions deadline is threatening to clobber Venezuela’s dwindling fleet of rigs and hamper energy production further.
“Trade optimism and a deluge of central bank easing” are supporting oil prices, said Stephen Innes, managing partner at VM Markets Pte in Singapore. Supply risks and OPEC compliance with its output restrictions also adds to the optimism, he said.
West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery added 7 cents to $55.42 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 12:08 p.m. in Singapore. The contract fell 0.6% Thursday.
Brent for October climbed 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $60.06 on the ICE Futures Europe Exchange after closing 0.6% lower on Thursday. The global benchmark crude was trading at a premium of $4.64 a barrel to WTI.
The U.S. and China deputies had a “productive call” on trade negotiations on Wednesday and there would be another call in the coming days, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business Network.
Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole will likely provide an indication of how deep the current easing cycle will be before the Fed’s Sept. 17-18 meeting. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is also expected to follow in cutting next month, while Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has said the Bank of Japan can deliver more stimulus if necessary.
Almost half the oil rigs operating in Venezuela will shut down by Oct. 25 if the Trump administration doesn’t extend a 90-day waiver from its sanctions, according to data compiled from consultancy Caracas Capital Markets. That could further cripple the OPEC member’s production because the structures are needed to drill new wells crucial for even maintaining output.

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