A positive wave of trade talks causes oil prices to drop

Oil prices fell from a three-month high Tuesday as investors awaited news from the latest round of US-China trade talks. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 24 cents, or 0.43%, at $55.75 a barrel, after reaching $56.73 on Monday, the highest level since November last year.


Brent crude futures were down 83 cents, or 1.25 percent, at $65.67, after hitting a new peak of $66.83 on Monday, the best recorded level since November.


A new round of US-China trade talks began in Washington on Tuesday, with even more meetings between higher officials expected later this week.


The trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies is widely attributed to lack of business confidence, affecting growth and demand for oil amid the uncertainty. The World Trade Organization (WTO) warned on Tuesday that its quarterly leading global trade index has fallen to its lowest level in nine years and is likely to fall further if the trade tensions continue.


However, investors seemed optimistic after comments from officials that the negotiation rounds held last week in Beijing yielded progress on key points between the two countries. According to analysts, the market is slowly regaining its bullish trend, subject to the perception of economic risks associated with trade talks between the United States and China.


In a separate context, gold prices rose on Tuesday after new comments from a Federal Reserve member on slowing monetary tightening by the central bank. Gold futures for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $18.25 or 1.38% to trade at $1,340, the best level since May 14.


Federal Reserve Chairman Loretta Mester, considered one of the hawks of the Fed, said she would prefer to slow the process of normalizing the balance sheet. Mester’s comments joined a broader group from the central bank as recent signs of economic weakness, including the biggest drop in retail sales in nine years, forced policymakers to reverse 180 degrees from a more aggressive stance in the past in favor of policy tightening.


The shift in the Fed’s tone signals a longer pause in interest rate hikes, which in turn reduces the opportunity cost of owning non-interest bearing gold.


In other metals trading, palladium futures rose with predictions that demand will see some growth in 2019, as stricter emission standards double demand for the metal used in catalytic converters. The metal rose 3.24% to $1,452 an ounce, a record high.


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