Oil prices slip on G7 trade concerns

Concerns about broad-based trade issues overshadowed potential supply-side deficits to push the price for crude oil lower early in the Friday session.

Fractures in the trade relationship among legacy allies leaves crude oil prices trending lower in early Friday trading. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo
Fractures in the trade relationship among legacy allies leaves crude oil prices trending lower in early Friday trading. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

U.S. President Donald Trump left Friday for a summit in Canada for members of the Group of 7 leading industrialized countries. He’s expected to leave the summit early to head to Singapore to focus his efforts on North Korean d├ętente.
After the U.S. president hit European allies with aluminum and steel tariffs, the meeting shows a Washington policy drifting away from European commitments.

“Looking forward to straightening out unfair trade deals with the G7 countries,” the U.S. president said through his Twitter account. “If it doesn’t happen, we come out even better!”

Trump’s distaste for multilateralism has been met with concerns about the impact on the global economy. In April, Chinese President Xi Jinping said a “zero-sum mentality looks even more out of place” in the global arena of the modern era.

Commodities markets tumbled at the height of the tit-for-trade volley of tariff threats between China and the United States in April. With European allies in near-unanimous opposition to Trump, the situation could repeat itself throughout the Friday session.

The price for Brent crude oil was down 0.53 percent as of 9:18 a.m. EDT to $76.91 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was down 0.18 percent to $65.83 per barrel.

“After yesterday’s geopolitically-stoked rally, prices are today preoccupied by trade concerns and developments relating to the G7 meeting, leaving price action to be listless thus far,” Matthew Smith, the director of commodity research at ClipperData, told UPI.

The price of oil moved higher in the previous session on concerns the exports from Venezuela could be stifled. A survey Friday from commodity pricing group S&P Global Platts found chronic shortages in Venezuelan oil production was in part behind the over-compliance of a production curtailment agreement among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Platts found total production from OPEC member states last month was 31.9 million barrels per day, its lowest level in more than a year. Declines from member states Venezuela and Nigeria were offset by output from Saudi Arabia, which topped 10 million bpd for the first time since October.

Saudi Arabia may be responding to pending and actual shortages with more production. Speaking from the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last month, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said there could be a gradual increase in output starting in the third quarter of the year.

Russia is the largest non-OPEC contributor to the production cut agreement, now in its second year. OPEC ministers are expected to review the plan at their next regular meeting in Vienna on June 22.

By Daniel J. Graeber