Crude oil futures were lower during mid-morning trade in Asia Monday amid a build reported in the US rig count data last week while ongoing trade tensions between the US and China also pressured prices lower.  At 10:25 am Singapore time (0225 GMT), ICE April Brent crude futures were down 60 cents/b (0.97%) from Friday’s settle at $61.50/b, while the NYMEX March light sweet crude contract fell 67 cents/b (1.27%) to $52.05/b.

Data released Friday by Baker Hughes showed US oil rig count increased by seven to 854 for the week ended February 8.  An S&P Global Platts Analytics data released on Thursday showed that oil rig totals were expected to have increased by eight last week to 875, while the combined oil and gas rig count inched up by one to 1,114.

Market participants would be watching out for developments around the US and China trade talks with a meeting between high ranking officials from both countries scheduled in Beijing this week.  “With approximately two weeks to go before the deadline, any decisive conclusions from the talks will again find the far-reaching ripple effect across markets,” IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said.

“Growing economic concerns, falling stock markets and emerging doubts that the trade conflict between the US and China will be resolved are putting oil prices under pressure,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note.  The White House last Thursday said President Donald Trump would not meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping until after the March 1 trade deal deadline, suggesting the US would levy further tariffs on Chinese imports next month.

“The market seemed to be spooked by reports that US President Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi would not be meeting face to face prior to the March 1 trade deal deadline,” ANZ analysts said in a note Monday.  “The wobbles around the UUS-China trade talks have not been friendly for the overall demand for crude. A poor demand outlook, strengthening US dollar and fresh doubts being cast on OPEC by the US in its ability to fix oil prices have also been instrumental factors in pressuring prices lower,” Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank, said.