WTI Oil Prices Edge Lower on Rising U.S. Rig Count
Oil prices were lower to start the week on Monday, after data showed that U.S. energy firms increased the number of oil rigs operating for the second time in three weeks.
In a sign that output could rise further, Baker Hughes reported Friday that the number of domestic rigs drilling for oil rose by seven in the week to Feb. 8, bringing the total count to 854.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures for March delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange slumped 32 cents, or around 0.6%, to $52.40 a barrel by 8:25AM ET (13:25 GMT).
WTI prices were also weighed down by the closure of a 120,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) crude distillation unit (CDU) at Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX)'s Wood River, Illinois, refinery following a fire on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Brent oil for April delivery on the ICE (NYSE:ICE) Futures Exchange in London inched down 2 cents to $62.08 a barrel.
Oil traders also kept an eye on trade talks between the U.S. and China, which kicked off in Beijing on Monday. The two sides are trying to hammer out a deal ahead of the March 1 deadline when U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25% from 10%.
The U.S. and China are the world’s two largest oil consuming nations.
Economists are worried that the ongoing trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies will drag on global growth and, by extension, erode energy demand.
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.
But recent signs of a weakening global economy have renewed concerns about a slowdown in energy demand.
In other energy trading, gasoline futures dipped 0.2% to $1.443 a gallon, while heating oil added 0.3% to $1.914 a gallon.
Natural gas futures rallied 4.5% to $2.697 per million British thermal units, as a winter blizzard across the U.S. northwest lifted prices.
-- Reuters contributed to this report