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Oil rises more than 2% on firm yuan, expectations of more OPEC cuts

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Oil jumped more than 2 per cent on Thursday on expectations that falling prices could lead to production cuts, coupled with a steadying of the yuan currency after a week of turmoil spurred by an escalation in US-China trade tensions.

[NEW YORK] Oil jumped more than 2 per cent on Thursday on expectations that falling prices could lead to production cuts, coupled with a steadying of the yuan currency after a week of turmoil spurred by an escalation in US-China trade tensions.

Brent crude ended the session up US$1.15, or 2.1 per cent, at US$57.38 a barrel, after hitting a session high of US$58.01.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose US$1.45, or 2.8 per cent, to settle at US$52.54 a barrel after hitting a peak of US$52.98.

Prices rebounded after tumbling nearly 5 per cent to their lowest since January on Wednesday after data showed an unexpected build in US crude stockpiles after nearly two months of decline.

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Lending some support to prices on Thursday, inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI, fell about 2.9 million barrels in the week to Aug 6, said traders, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape.

China's yuan strengthened against the dollar and its exports unexpectedly returned to growth in July on improved global demand despite US trade pressure. The dollar fell 0.2 per cent against the offshore yuan.

"Today's price rebound across the energy spectrum looks like a normal correction from a short-term oversold technical condition," Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates said in a note.

"While some Saudi overtures of additional output restraint, a softening US dollar and lift in global risk appetite are facilitating today's rally, we are not viewing this as the beginning of a sustainable advance by any measure."

Reports that Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, had called other producers to discuss the slide in crude prices have helped supported the market, traders and analysts said.

"Saudis are scrambling to send a signal that will stabilise oil markets ... With energy prices heading for the worst weekly close since December, we should not be surprised to hear more rumours that OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) may be considering increased production cut efforts ahead of a key summit that is tentatively planned for the second week in Abu Dhabi," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.

Persistent worries about demand growth have weighed on global oil markets, particularly as the world's two biggest economies are locked in a trade row.

Crude oil shipments into China, the world's largest importer, in July rose 14 per cent from a year earlier as new refineries ramped up purchases. Fuel exports continued to climb as supply outstripped demand in the world's second-largest oil consumer.

Saudi Arabia plans to keep its crude oil exports below 7 million barrels per day in August and September despite strong demand from customers, to help drain global oil inventories and bring the market back to balance, a Saudi oil official said.

Geopolitical tensions over the safety of oil tankers passing through the Persian Gulf remained unresolved as Iran refused to release a British-flagged tanker it seized last month.

The US Maritime Administration said US-flagged commercial vessels should send their transit plans for the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf waters to US and British naval authorities, and that crews should not forcibly resist any Iranian boarding party.

REUTERS