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Crude Oil Prices Plunge as Poor China Exports Underlines Trade War Damage

Oil prices dropped on Monday after data exhibiting China’s total exports of goods and services shortened for four consecutive months, sending currents through a market already concerned about the damage being done to world demand by the Sino-U.S. trade conflict.

Brent futures had been down 21 cents, i.e., 0.3%, at $64.18 a barrel after gaining around 3% last week on the news that OPEC and its associates would deepen production cuts.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil futures were down 28 cents, i.e., 0.47% to $58.92 a barrel, having risen around 7% last week on the prospects for lower production from ‘OPEC+.’

Monday’s sudden shock came after customs data released Sunday confirmed exports from the world’s second-largest economy in November plunged 1.1% from a year earlier – a sharp refusal from expectations for a 1% lift in a poll.

The weak start to the week came in spite of records showing China’s crude imports jumped to a record, unveiling how deep jitters are embedded in the market over the U.S.-China trade conflict that has stymied world growth and oil demand.

The sagging export data is “a casualty again of the protracted trade conflict,” said Stephen Innes chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader.

Beijing and Washington have been trying to agree on a trade deal that will end tit-for-tat tariffs, however, discussions have dragged on for months as they bicker over crucial details.

Monday’s declines further went against indicators on Friday that China was easing its stand on resolving its trade conflict with the U.S., confirming on Friday that it was suspending import tariffs for some soybean and pork deliveries.

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