Oil Prices Fall 1% as U.S. Drilling Activity Picks Up; Trade Talks in Focus
Oil prices traded lower on Monday in Asia after Baker Hughes said in a weekly report last Friday that energy firm increased the number of operating oil rigs. Companies added seven oil rigs in the week to Feb. 8, bringing the total count to 854, Baker Hughes reported. The U.S. Crude Oil WTI Futures dropped by around 1.1% to $52.16 per barrel at 1:22 AM EST (6:22 AM GMT), while the International Brent Oil Futures were down 0.7% at $61.73 per barrel. Oil futures settled slightly higher on Friday but dropped by nearly 5% for the week as worries over a global economic slowdown dominated sentiment after the European Commission sharply downgraded 2019 Eurozone growth forecast. After ending 2018 in freefall, oil prices have rallied approximately 16% to start the year, boosted by OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela. However, recent signs of a weakening global economy have renewed concerns about a slowdown in energy demand, especially if the ongoing trade dispute between China and the U.S., the world’s two biggest economies, drags on. The latest round of trade talks between U.S. and Chinese officials is set to begin later in the day, as traders wait to see if any more news materialises ahead of a March 1 deadline on new tariffs. The United States has threatened to increase tariffs already imposed on goods from China on March 1 if the trade talks do not produce an agreement.