Oil prices mark biggest one-day gain in nearly 3 weeks


Asian imports of 726,600 bpd of US crude in November and January's 676,190 bpd were the strongest two months on record, showing that the region's traders were quick to take advantage of the weakening of WTI relative to Brent.

That would take the United States past Russian Federation to become the world's biggest oil producer.

"Rising US oil output coupled with a simultaneous upswing in domestic oil stockpiles has all the makings for a potent bearish cocktail", PVM Oil Associates strategist Stephen Brennock said.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $US1.81 to $US60.79 a barrel, a 2.9 per cent loss, in afternoon trade.

But with the threat of the United States sparking a trade war with some of its largest partners, financial markets were on edge.

Oil has recently tended to move in tandem with the equity market.

One day after Gary Cohn said he would resign his position in the White House, European markets were falling Wednesday.

"Today is going to be more about watching the S&P. the correlation between the (index) and oil has been moving in synchronicity".

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With the inventories reports out of the way, traders are likely to go back to focusing on the outcome of the tariff debate and whether Trump will implement his plan to sanction imports of steel and aluminum, and if other countries will take retaliatory action.

"It does not bode well for future economic growth and increased energy demand".

US crude oil and stock index figures shifted lower Wednesday amid global market fears on a trade war, the resignation of President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser and rising inventories.

Crude inventories rose by 5.661 million barrels in the week to 426.880 million barrels, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday.

Official data by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due on Wednesday.

A surge in USA crude production to more than 10 million barrels per day (bpd) has helped the country overtake top exporter Saudi Arabia. That puts the USA on track to eclipse the likes of Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation as the world's largest producer. Last year, the United States surpassed Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The EIA said on Tuesday it expects USA crude output in the fourth quarter of 2018 to reach an average of 11.17 million bpd, up from the previous forecast a month ago of 11.04 million bpd.

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