Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices rose early Thursday as China and the United States restarted trade talks aimed at reaching accords to end tariffs, and after reports the Chinese economy could be showing signs of resiliency.
West Texas Intermediate crude future prices as of 7:56 a.m. EST were 0.9 percent higher to $54.37 per barrel while Brent crude futures rose 1.3 percent to $64.42 per barrel.
If the trend continues, it would be crude oil's third consecutive daily gain. However, prices are still lower than this year's high of $55.26 per barrel on Feb. 1.
WTI's highest level in the last year was just over $76 per barrel on Oct. 3, and the most recent lowest level was $42.53 per barrel during the Christmas-shortened trading session.
Oil prices rose as China and the United States started a new two-day round of high-level economic and trade consultations in Beijing on Thursday morning, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.
In other reports from China, exports and imports data show both rose at a faster-than-expected rate in January, another sign that the Chinese economy remained resilient, Chinese Xinhua news agency also reported Thursday.
"Resolution of the U.S.-China trade impasse would be the final matchstick to reignite global growth," Jeff Yastine, senior equities analyst at Banyan Hill Publishing, told UPI.
Yastine noted government reforms in Brazil could help stimulate growth while India's economy is expected to expand.
The United States wants China to eliminate trade practices it considers unfair, so in 2018 it imposed duties on Chinese exports to use as leverage in negotiations -- but China reacted with countertariffs of its own. Unless an accord is reached, new tariffs will go into effect in March.
China is the world's leading crude oil importer. Any economic slowdown there would mean reduced crude oil demand.
There has been widespread concern that a trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies, the U.S. and China, could have ripple effects on other parts of the world.