Crude oil prices were mixed in Thursday’s trading start as Iran's oil exports showed month-on-month decreases in May, while market concerns persist over global oil demand due to troubled Sino-U.S. trade relations.
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $68.12 per barrel at 0740 GMT for a 0.2% decline after closing Wednesday at $69.45 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate, on the other hand, was at $59.39 a barrel for a 0.1% gain after ending the previous session at $58.81 per barrel.
Due to U.S. sanctions, statistics show that Iranian oil exports fell to 400,000 barrels per day in May -- almost half the volumes of April.
Washington's sanctions on Iran and Venezuela continue to lower crude oil production from these countries, trimming the glut of supply in the market and pushing prices upwards.
However, the trade impasse between the world's two largest oil consumers, the U.S. and China, continue to worry investors that global oil demand will be weak this year, which is subsequently putting a downward pressure on prices.
The global oil market will focus on the weekly change in the U.S.' crude oil inventories and production that will be released by the Energy Information Administration later Thursday.
By Ovunc Kutlu