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Oil prices edge up, but US-China trade tensions cap gains

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Oil prices inched higher on Tuesday, though gains were checked amid an escalation in the trade war between the United States and China.

[SYDNEY] Oil prices inched higher on Tuesday, though gains were checked amid an escalation in the trade war between the United States and China.

Brent crude futures were at US$70.27 a barrel at 0104 GMT, up 6 US cents, or 0.1 per cent, from their last close. Brent ended the previous session down 0.6 per cent.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at US$61.17 per barrel, up 12 cents, or 0.2 per cent, from their previous settlement. WTI closed the last session down 1 per cent on Monday.

Analysts said the US-China trade war was overshadowing the market, though market fundamentals provided some support.

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Market voices on:

"A full-blown trade war would have lasting consequences on global growth, seriously limiting the upside for energy demand. Disruptions have balanced the market, but lower demand and rising US production could make for a quick reversal," said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at Oanda.

China defied a warning from US President Donald Trump and moved to impose higher tariffs on a range of US goods including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas.

Focus was also on the Middle East after Saudi Arabia on Monday said that two of its oil tankers were among those attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and described it as an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies amid tensions between the United States and Iran.

The US Energy Department said on Monday that it was confident global oil markets are well supplied.

REUTERS