Crude oil prices opened Wednesday on a lower note sustaining their slump from the previous session with U.S.-China relations straining further and pressuring global economic growth and oil demand.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to increase the rate of tariffs on Beijing as the trade war between the world's two largest economies entered its 19th month.
"If we don’t make a [trade] deal with China, I will just raise the tariffs even higher," Trump said in Tuesday's meeting with his Cabinet.
So far, Washington has imposed tariffs on $550 billion worth of Chinese imports, while Beijing has reciprocated by implementing tariffs on $185 billion worth of imports from the U.S.
Trump delayed increasing the rate of tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports last month, while China made certain exemptions from soy, pork and some agricultural goods that it imports from the U.S.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to protect human rights in Hong Kong, a move that further aggravated U.S.-China relations.
Hong Kong, the autonomous region under China since 1998, has seen a spate of protests against the local administration’s decision to legalize extradition to Beijing since early July. Although Carrie Lam's government has scrapped the decision, protestors demand the prosecution of police force members accused of violence during the protests.
Oil prices plummeted more than 2% on Tuesday with forecasts of U.S. crude oil stocks increasing by 5.95 million barrels for the week ending Nov. 14, according to data released by the American Petroleum Institute (API). The market expectation was a boost of 1.54 million barrels.
International benchmark Brent crude declined 2.71% on Tuesday to close at $60.75 per barrel. Wednesday's trading saw little change and at 0650 GMT Brent cost $60.71 a barrel.
American benchmark West Texas Intermediate plummeted 3% on Tuesday to end the day at $55.34 a barrel. Trading on Wednesday at the same time saw costs of $55.26 per barrel, marking a 0.14% daily loss.
By Ovunc Kutlu