Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Cooling tensions between the United States and Russia, and corrections from Wednesday's purge, help push the price of oil slightly higher early Thursday.
Crude oil prices lost 3 percent in Wednesday trading after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported crude oil inventories dropped less than expected.
"Fears of the impact of sanctions on China, Iran, Russia and Turkey did not help and another big drop in U.S. gasoline demand has some worried that U.S consumers were showing resistance to higher pump prices," Phil Flynn, a market analyst at the PRICE Futures Group in Chicago, said in a daily emailed market report. "The reality is that in August, we do start to see a wind down in gas consumption, and petroleum in general, is seasonally weak."
Russia reacted to a U.S. decision to impose fresh sanctions in response to the alleged use of a nerve agent against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the British city of Salisbury in March.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the U.S. decision was counter-productive given the show of friendship between Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki last month.
"Of course, such decisions being taken by the U.S. side are absolutely unfriendly and can hardly be associated with the ... constructive atmosphere achieved at the latest meeting of the two presidents," he was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying.
Crude oil prices were moving between small gains and losses ahead of the start of trading in New York. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was up 0.15 percent as of 9:22 a.m. EDT to $72.39 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was up 0.06 percent to $66.89 per barrel.
The market was moderated by lingering trade tensions between the United States and China, the world's leading economies. Tit-for-tat trade restrictions could undermine global growth and Beijing on Wednesday responded to the latest U.S. decision on tariffs by targeting $16 billion worth of U.S. goods
Assurances, meanwhile, came from Saudi Arabia that the diplomatic fallout with Canada would not impact the flow of oil
Saudi Oil Minster Khalid al-Falih said his government's policy is to meet market considerations first.
"(Falih) also clarified that the current diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Canada will not, in any way, impact Saudi Aramco's relations with its customers in Canada," a statement from the official Saudi Press Agency read.