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Oil retreats from multiweek high as US, China trade concerns weigh


Analysts had been expecting little change after last week saw a surprise draw.

At 9:24 a.m. (0224 GMT) prices were up 3.29 per cent at 430 yuan, with 19,122 lots, equal to 19.1 million barrels of oil, traded.

The most-active September contract opened at 440.4 yuan per barrel from a reference point of 416 yuan, and jumped to as high as 447.1 yuan in the first few minutes.

Over the first 24 hours of trading, Shanghai's spot crude volumes made up 5 percent of the global market, compared with 23 percent for Brent crude futures and 72 percent for the U.S. West Texas Intermediate contract.

"The emergence of a new financial oil price benchmark in Asia has been long-awaited and may prove to have a significant influence over the oil markets in the years to come". The first three days of trading have been fairly volatile, with a small number of outstanding contracts but with very high trading turnover.

The early involvement of big global traders was a morale boost to the fledging market, but state oil majors like PetroChina and Sinopec are expected to provide a significant amount of liquidity in the long-term.

On the other hand, China is not leaving everything to market forces.

To attract more participation, China plans to waive income taxes for overseas individuals and institutions.

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Despite this, there were concerns over regulatory interference, as seen in other Chinese commodities like iron ore and coal.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange is playing down speculation that the aim is to create a global oil benchmark, stressing that it will be a long time before the contracts become a major hedging tool for global and domestic oil producers, refiners and consumers.

Similar obstacles have kept foreign investors as bit players in the country's giant mainland stock and bond markets.

"The expectations of a rise in inventories have weighed on the price", said Daniel Hynes, a senior commodities strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group.

The yuan-denominated contract will also help Beijing's efforts to internationalise the nation's currency, said Woodmac's Gupta.

As for geopolitical tensions, there was said to be an escalation on one front and an easing on another: supporting prices somewhat on Monday was Saudi Arabia air defences shooting down seven ballistic missiles fired by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi militia on Sunday, some of which targeted Riyadh. WTI futures fell 40 cents to $64.85 a barrel.

The Chinese government would rather have a slightly slower or softer launch so it doesn't have to intervene early on in a market that's bubbling too quickly, said Michal Meidan, an analyst at industry consultant Energy Aspects Ltd.

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