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Oil gains but darker demand outlook tempers gains

[LONDON] Oil rose as global markets steadied on Thursday, recouping some of the previous day's 2 per cent slide, though a weakening outlook for crude demand kept prices in check.

The oil market had felt the effects on Wednesday of a large build in US inventories that added to concern over the outlook for fuel demand while crude was also swept lower by broader selling of industrial commodities such as copper.

China and the United States have implemented several rounds of tit-for-tat trade tariffs and threatened further duties on exports worth hundreds of billions of dollars, which could knock global economic growth.

The crisis gripping the Turkish lira, meanwhile, has rattled other emerging markets and reverberated across equities, bonds and raw materials.

Brent crude oil futures were up 39 US cents at US$71.15 a barrel at 1213 GMT, while US crude futures rose 14 US cents on the day to US$65.15.

"The growth story is now more or less a US growth story. The rest of the world isn't playing along any longer," said Saxo Bank commodities strategist Ole Hansen.

"It also really reflects how the theme in the commodities market has so quickly changed from being one where the worry was about supply, with Iran sanctions for oil or Chilean (miner) strikes for copper, and now the focus is on demand."

On the supply front, data US data on Wednesday showed crude output rose by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.9 million bpd in the week ending Aug 10. Crude inventories increased by 6.8 million barrels, representing the largest weekly rise since March last year.

"This build certainly hasn't helped market sentiment," Dutch bank ING said after the release of the EIA report.

While supply rises in the United States, Asian markets are showing signs of slowdown as trade disputes and a stronger US dollar drag on the economies of some of the world's largest oil buyers.

"This balance (between supply and demand) ... has a profound influence on global and regional oil stocks. Ultimately, it is the latter that determines oil prices," said PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga.

"Get that right and you will have a good idea what to expect for months and years ahead."

Providing some support for Brent crude were looming US sanctions against Iran's oil exports, set to start from November. Iran's biggest customers, such as India, South Korea and Japan, are already scaling back orders.


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