Aug. 8 (UPI) -- New trade measures imposed by the U.S. government and a build in U.S. gasoline supplies helped pull the price of oil lower before markets opened Wednesday.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative released a list on Tuesday of $16 billion worth of imports from China that will be subject to a 25 percent tariff, escalating trade tensions between the world's two leading economies.
The latest tranche of tariffs comes after the United States imposed $34 billion in tariffs on Chinese products including industrial machinery, office equipment, electronics, medical devices and vehicles on July 6. Beijing promptly responded with its own taxes on U.S.-made aircraft, cars, computer chips, fuel, pork and soybeans.
Tit-for-tat trade measures could undermine broader economic growth and influence demand for oil and natural gas. On Wednesday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said growth was balanced by weakness among the world's major industrialized economies.
"Composite leading indicators, designed to anticipate turning points in economic activity relative to trend six to nine months ahead, are pointing tentatively to easing growth momentum in the OECD area as a whole," its report read.
The price for Brent crude oil was down 0.91 percent as of 9:18 a.m. EDT to $73.97 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was down 1.45 percent to $68.17 per barrel.
The price of oil may be reacting to a mixed report on U.S. oil and gasoline inventories from the American Petroleum Institute. Its report showed crude oil inventories declined 6 million barrels last week, potentially driven by higher exports. Gasoline inventories, however, climbed 3.1 million barrels, suggesting consumer appetites were fading.
The price of oil will move after 10:30 a.m. EDT when the U.S. Energy Information Administration releases its inventory data. Oil prices will sink further if the EIA reports a surprise build in crude oil inventories, as it did last week.
EIA in a monthly market report, published Tuesday, forecast an average price for Brent crude oil in the second half of the year at $72 per barrel and then a decline to $71 per barrel in 2019. Tailwinds are present in the form of supply-side shocks, while headwinds are apparent in the risk of lower economic growth.