Crude oil futures continued to trade higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Monday, continuing on their upward rally seen from last Friday as markets await fresh leads from the resumption of trade talks between US and China.  At 10:20 am Singapore time (0220 GMT), ICE March Brent crude futures were up 64 cents/b (1.12%) from Friday’s settle at $57.70/b, while the NYMEX February light sweet crude contract was 65 cents/b (1.36%) higher at $48.61/b.

Oil prices on Friday moved higher following the release of the weekly inventory data from the US Energy Information Administration, which showed a modest build in US crude stocks, less than what analysts had expected and a larger than expected build in product inventories.  US commercial crude stocks edged 7,000 barrels higher to 441.42 million barrels while US distillate stocks increased 9.53 million barrels to a 10-week high of 129.43 million barrels and gasoline inventories added 6.89 million barrels to 239.99 million for the week ended December 28, EIA data showed.

Market participants will now be looking for any news to emerge from the two-day meeting in Beijing between US and China on further trade policy.  “The assortment of factors has been supportive for a positive start to Asian markets this week, just as we watch intently for any developments off the US-China trade negotiations in Beijing this Monday, ” Pan Jingyi, IG market strategist said.  This week’s talks are the latest between the US and China since US President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Argentina in December. Trump said at the time that he would delay the next US tariff escalation until March 2, set previously for January 1.

Elsewhere, Goldman Sachs in its Commodities Research report released over the weekend reduced its three-month and six-month forecasts for ICE Brent Future prices to $62.5/b and $67.5/b respectively down from $70/b previously.  “The oil market is still pricing-in a sharp slowdown in global growth despite our economists’ forecast for resilient growth and robust late-2018 oil demand data, ” analysts from Goldman Sachs said in a note.  “We expect prices to recover further, although growth uncertainty will likely require strengthening physical oil markets to drive this rally, with encouraging evidence that the OPEC cuts are starting, ” they added.