Oil prices edge higher on Chinese economic data

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose slightly on Monday as Chinese industrial output and retail data topped expectations but gains were capped by overall figures showing the country’s slowest quarterly economic growth in decades.

A horizontal drilling rig on a lease owned by Parsley Energy operates at sunrise in the Permian Basin near Midland, Texas U.S. August 24, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

The positive Chinese data may indicate early success in the government’s stimulus efforts and potentially more oil demand in the world’s second biggest economy.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 rose 29 cents, or 0.43%, to $67.01 a barrel by 1125 GMT, while U.S. crude CLc1 was up 23 cents, or 0.38%, at $60.44 a barrel.

Both contracts last week made their biggest weekly gains in three weeks on cuts in U.S. oil production and diplomatic tensions in the Middle East.

Analysts at ANZ bank said China’s crude oil imports year-to-date still looked impressive, even as imports fell in June for a second straight month.

China’s crude oil throughput rose to a record of 13.07 million barrels per day in June, up 7.7% from a year earlier, following the start-up of two new, large refineries, official data showed on Monday.

Still, economic growth of just 6.2% in the second quarter of 2019 — the worst in 27 years — highlighted the impact of trade tensions with Washington and raised the possibility that more incentives might be needed to jump start the economy.

Despite a truce agreed between the Chinese and U.S. presidents last month, the trade war remains unresolved.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency’s monthly report on Friday said that abundant output and sluggish growth would leave oil markets increasingly over-supplied going into 2020.

“The basic message is that the second half of this year will see some depletion in global oil inventories but this will be followed by a dismal 2020, especially the first six months of next year,” PVM analyst Tamas Varga said.

Refineries in the path of Tropical Storm Barry continued to operate, although the storm has slashed U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude output by 73%, or 1.38 million barrels per day.

In the Middle East, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Sunday that Iran was ready to hold talks with the United States if Washington lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it quit last year.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Monday said there remained a “small window” of time to save the Iran nuclear deal as Tehran signaled it would ramp up its nuclear program.

Additional reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jane Merriman

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