Oil rises on signs OPEC not prepared to boost output

* OPEC, non-OPEC ministers meet in Algeria on Sunday

* Market watching trade war impact on crude demand

* U.S. sanctions on Iran continue to support prices

* U.S. shale output expected to rise in October (Updates prices, China's tariff announcement)

By Julia Payne

LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Oil firmed on Tuesday on signs that OPEC would not be prepared to raise output to address shrinking supplies from Iran, and as Saudi Arabia signalled it was in no rush to bring prices down.

Brent crude futures were up $1.45 a barrel at $79.50 barrel at 1346 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up $1.32 cents at $70.23 per barrel.

Ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC producers meet on Sunday to discuss compliance with output policies. OPEC sources have told Reuters no immediate action was planned and producers would discuss how to share a previously agreed output increase.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed Saudi sources, the kingdom was currently comfortable with prices above $80 per barrel, at least for the short term.

The news agency reported that while the kingdom had no desire to push prices higher than $80 a barrel, it may no longer be possible to avoid it. U.S. sanctions affecting Iran's petroleum sector due to come into force from Nov. 4.

OPEC and industry sources have previously told Reuters the kingdom was keen to keep the lid on prices at $80 per barrel until U.S. congressional elections to avoid coming under any additional pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump.

"It casts doubts on whether Saudi Arabia will increase output to compensate for the loss of Iranian crude once sanctions come into effect," said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said an oil price between $70 and $80 was temporary and sanctions-driven, adding that the long-term price would stand around $50.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said last week in Moscow that he did not foresee any price spikes once sanctions came into effect, and was positive about Saudi output.

TRADE WAR CAPS GAINS

However, the longer-term outlook remains weighed down by an escalation in the China-U.S. trade war that has clouded the outlook for crude demand.

China said it had no choice but to retaliate against new U.S. trade measures after Trump imposed 10 percent tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

On Tuesday, China announced tariffs of 5-10 percent, a lower volume than previously planned, on $60 billion of U.S. goods that would become effective on Sept. 24. Trump, meanwhile, accused Beijing of trying to sway the U.S. congressional election by targeting farmers.

The tariffs are likely to limit economic activity in both China and the United States, potentially hitting growth in demand for oil as less fuel is consumed to move goods for trade.

"Oil markets are in a tug-of-war as Iran sanctions will continue to provide near-term support, while discussions around global demand in the wake of this morning's tariffs and speculation of further OPEC supply increases should temper upside ambitions," said Stephen Innes, head of trading at brokerage Oanda. (Reporting by Meng Meng and Aizhu Chen in BEIJING, additional reporting by Roslan Khasawneh in SINGAPORE Editing by Kirsten Donovan, David Evans and Jan Harvey)

First Published: 2018-09-18 03:12:32
Updated 2018-09-18 15:59:48


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