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Oil prices down more than 1% on rising supply, trade war

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Oil prices dropped more than 1 per cent on Tuesday on signs of rising supply and concern that global economic growth and demand for fuel will fall victim to the US-China trade war.

[NEW YORK] Oil prices dropped more than 1 per cent on Tuesday on signs of rising supply and concern that global economic growth and demand for fuel will fall victim to the US-China trade war.

Brent crude futures fell US$1.43, or 1.9 per cent, to settle at US$75.91 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 86 cents to settle at US$66.18 a barrel, a 1.3 per cent drop.

Earlier in the session, Brent reached a session low of US$75.09 a barrel, the lowest since Aug 24. WTI slumped to US$65.33 a barrel, the weakest since Aug 17.

Prices were little changed in post-settlement trade after industry group the American Petroleum Institute reported US crude inventories rose 5.7 million barrels last week, more than analysts' forecast for a 4.1 million-barrel build.

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Investors will look to official government data on US inventories due to be released Wednesday.

Both crude benchmarks have fallen about US$10 a barrel from four-year highs reached in the first week of October and were on track to post their worst monthly performance since July 2016.

Oil has been caught in the global financial market slump this month, with equities under pressure from the trade fight between the world's two largest economies.

The United States has imposed tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has responded with retaliatory duties on US$110 billion worth of US goods.

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he thinks there will be "a great deal" with China on trade but warned that he has billions of dollars worth of new tariffs ready to go if a deal is not possible.

Mr Trump said he would like to make a deal now but that China was not ready. He did not elaborate.

"One discussion that is developing is that (trade tensions) are hurting demand for crude oil. There's probably an element of truth to that," said Bob Yawger, director of futures at Mizuho in New York.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said high oil prices were hurting consumers and could dent fuel demand at a time of slowing global economic activity.

Oil production from Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia reached 33 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time in September, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

That is an increase of 10 million bpd since the start of the decade and means the three producers alone now meet a third of global crude demand.

The United States is set to impose new sanctions on Iranian crude from next week, and exports from the Islamic Republic have already begun to fall. Saudi Arabia and Russia have said they will pump enough to meet demand once US sanctions are imposed.

"The fact that this price weakness is developing just ahead of the official kickoff of the Iranian oil sanctions suggests an amply supplied market in which additional supply was brought to market well in advance of a likely acceleration in Iranian export decline," Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.

REUTERS