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Oil rises, set for weekly gain amid hopes for end to U.S.-China trade war

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices edged higher on Friday, with crude benchmarks poised for multi-week gains amid a sharp drawdown in U.S. crude inventories, while trade tensions eased after Washington and Beijing agreed to hold high-level talks next month.

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FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of Pemex’s storage and distribution terminal on the outskirts of Mexico City, Mexico February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo Brent crude was up 17 cents, or 0.3%, at $61.12 a barrel by 0408 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 16 cents, or 0.3%, at $56.46 a barrel

Brent is set to mark its fourth weekly gain, while U.S. crude is headed for a second weekly rise

Beijing and Washington on Thursday agreed to hold high-level talks in early October in Washington, cheering investors hoping for an end to the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies that has brought tit-for-tat tariff hikes, chipping away at economic growth

The prolonged dispute had a dampening effect on oil prices, although they have risen over the year, helped by production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, to drain inventories

“Upside potential for crude oil futures will remain limited, however, as strong U.S. production and demand-side concerns cap bullish gains for the current term,” said Benjamin Lu, commodities analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore

He also cited “subdued economic momentum, global trade uncertainties and rising market risks” for reasons to expect that U.S. crude would be range-bound between $55-$60 over the third quarter

U.S. crude and product inventories fell last week, with crude drawing down for a third consecutive week despite a jump in imports, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said

Crude stocks dropped 4.8 million barrels, nearly double analysts’ expectations, to 423 million barrels, their lowest since October 2018

Oil prices on Thursday soared more than 2% after the EIA report, although they gradually trimmed gains as investors are not entirely convinced that the Sino-U.S. trade talks will yield results

Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Kenneth Maxwell