Even as the fate of crude oil imports by the U.S. from Venezuela remains uncertain due to sanctions on the latter, these shipments may not necessarily flood the market in India, the third-largest importer of oil from the South American nation.
Venezuela exports around 1 million barrels of oil per day, about 1 percent of global production, of which half heads to the United States.
This news may have been offset by robust U.S.jobs data and a stronger-than-expected ISM Manufacturing PMI report on Friday, but traders turned bearish on Monday when the government reported that new orders for US -made goods unexpectedly fell in November amid sharp declines in demand for machinery and electrical equipment, suggesting a slowdown in manufacturing as 2018 ended.
USA crude futures were down 50 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $54.06 a barrel by 1400 GMT.
US crude inventories rose by 2.5 million barrels last week and gasoline stocks also increased, the American Petroleum Institute said.
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia could replace this volume from spare capacity of about 1.8 million bpd, and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are also able to pump more after an OPEC-led supply cut began in January.
Market participants are also watching for developments surrounding the U.S.
International Brent crude futures were up $0.33, or 0.53%, at $62.84 a barrel, down from a high of $63.63.
Venezuela's opposition is opening a US fund to receive the proceeds of oil sales, a key measure to secure revenue for its effort to dislodge Maduro, an opposition lawmaker said on Wednesday.
A flotilla loaded with about seven million barrels of Venezuelan oil has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, some holding cargoes bought ahead of the latest US sanctions and others whose buyers are weighing whom to pay, according to traders, shippers and Refinitiv Eikon data.
Quevedo said USA sanctions and trade wars will affect oil prices in 2019. The sanctions aim to block USA refiners from paying into PDVSA accounts controlled by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The January decrease was the largest in the past 12 months as Opec cut production in response to falling oil prices.
WTI futures were at 54.65 dollars per barrel at 0810 GMT, up nine cents or 0.16 per cent.
The global economic outlook and prospects for growth in fuel demand have been clouded by poor economic data in China and U.S.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union address that a trade deal with China was possible.
Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are poised to start another round of trade talks next week.