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Oil prices rise more than 1 percent on Venezuela sanctions


Reuters LONDON
By Noah Browning
LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Wednesday, boosted by concerns about supply disruptions following U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry but pegged back by uncertainty over the global economy.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $54.03 per barrel by 1450 GMT, up 72 cents or 1.35 percent.
International Brent crude oil futures were at $61.96 per barrel, up 64 cents or a little over 1 percent.
Washington announced export sanctions against Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) on Monday, limiting transactions between U.S. companies and the state-owned oil firm.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday he was ready for talks with the opposition although he ruled out snap elections.
The sanctions aim to freeze sale proceeds from PDVSA's exports of roughly 500,000 barrels per day of crude to the United States.
World oil futures rose more than 2 percent on Tuesday, but the market has not seen panicked buying as a result of the U.S. decision to target Venezuela's oil output.
Its output was already near seven-decade lows while the sanctions affect Venezuelan supply only to the United States, and analysts believe volumes could eventually be rerouted to China and India at discounts.
"The main risks for supply could come from a violent confrontation within the country, damaging the oil infrastructure," analyst Carsten Menke at Julius Baer said.
"Yet the risks of such an event seem very low," he added. "This oil will find its way to the market."
Beyond Venezuela, analysts pointed to economic weakness as countering supply-side troubles.
"Another major risk event for the oil market will be U.S.-China trade talks which get underway today," said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil.
"Both sides are now faced with a now or never moment in settling their trade spat."
Global economic growth is slowing amid a trade dispute between the United States and China, the world's two biggest economies.
China reported its lowest annual economic growth in nearly 30 years last week, adding to a litany of worrying economic data from Europe and East Asia.
Officials from Washington and Beijing are set to launch a new round of trade talks on Wednesday. The two sides have slapped hefty import tariffs on each other's goods.
(Reporting by Noah Browning; Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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First Published: Jan 30 2019 | 8:33 PM IST

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