Futures Movers: Oil struggles for direction after Trump says China deal could wait until after election

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Oil futures traded near unchanged Tuesday, giving up earlier gains after President Donald Trump said it might be better to wait until after the 2020 election to complete a U.S.-China trade deal and as investors assessed prospects for deeper crude-production cuts when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies meet later this week.

West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery CLF20, -0.54%  was up 2 cents, or less than 0.1%, at $55.98 a barrel, while February Brent crude BRNG20, -0.53%, the global benchmark, was off 1 cent at $60.91 a barrel.

Oil pulled back from a session high above $56.40 a barrel for WTI after Trump, speaking in London, said he had “no deadline” when it comes to completing long-running U.S.-China trade talks. “In some ways, I think it’s better to wait until after the election if you want to know the truth. But I’m not going to say that. I just think that,” Trump said.

Read: Did Trump talk bluster or was he hinting that China talks are collapsing?

Oil rallied Monday, with expectations around this week’s meeting of OPEC and its allies providing some support. Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia is pressing the group, known collectively as OPEC+, to add 400,000 barrels a day to existing cuts of 1.2 million barrels a day. The pact on existing cuts runs until the end of March.

See: Expectations grow for deeper oil production cuts by OPEC and its allies

The meetings in Vienna on Thursday and Friday “will be key in ensuring that oil prices remain around $60 for the rest of the year, but following its conclusion, there will be the pressing concern over the U.S. and China trade dispute, which is still discouraging,” said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive of Sun Global Investments, in a note. “Talks are continuing to drag on and the work by OPEC and other parties to help rebalance markets will only go so far unless a phase one deal is reached soon.”

In other energy trade, January gasoline RBF20, +0.03%  was up 0.1% at $1.5753 a gallon, while January heating oil HOF20, -0.51%  declined 0.4% to $1.8787 a gallon.

January natural-gas futures NGF20, +3.78%  jumped 3.5% to $2.411 per million British thermal units.

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