China ramps up crude oil imports despite Washington’s clampdown on Iran

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Oil prices were moving higher on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on $200 billion (?178 billion) worth of Chinese goods, but said a deal was still possible.

USA stock futures fell and Asian shares pared gains as China said it would retaliate over the tariff increases.

"The escalation of trade friction is not in the interests of the people of the two countries and the people of the world", the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

US crude is heading for a weekly loss of 0.3%, its third week of consecutive declines.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled down 42 cents at $61.70 per barrel. The waivers were granted last November to buyers of Iranian oil.

Oil prices slipped almost 2 per cent on Tuesday, on track to fall to their lowest levels in over a month as renewed doubts over US-China trade talks stoked concerns over global growth and demand even though US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela tightened supply and helped stem losses.

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects global oil demand to rise by 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) this year. The row over trade has cast a shadow over the global economy.

Brent for July settlement rose $0.07, or 0.1%, to $70.46/bbl on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark contract was trading an $8.81 premium to WTI. "Tariffs will make our country much stronger, not weaker".

Nigeria boosted its April production to a 14-month high of 1.95mbd despite delays to loadings of key export grade, Qua Iboe, according to traders, and disruptions to a major Bonny Light pipeline, the survey found.

Among the 11 OPEC members with output quotas, compliance in April was 116 per cent, according to Platts calculations, largely due to Saudi discipline, this giving the coalition some cushion to increase production and still remain within the parameters of the deal. Brent's three-month oil time-spread is reflecting the shortages, with the widest backwardation in nearly five years.

"Prices are finding fundamental support from the tightening supply, as also indicated by the pronounced state of backwardation in the Brent forward curve", Commerzbank AG analysts including Carsten Fritsch wrote in a report.

USA crude inventories fell 4 million barrels in the week ended May 3, the Energy Information Administration said.

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