Oil prices fall as demand data disappoints China

SINGAPORE, Oct. 24 (Reuters) – Oil prices fell Monday after China released much delayed trade data showing demand for the world’s largest crude oil importer remained weak in September as strict COVID-19 policies and fuel exports consumption.

Brent crude futures ahead of the December settlement fell 40 cents, or 0.4%, to $93.10 a barrel at 0340 GMT, after rising 2% last week. US West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery was $84.66 a barrel, down 39 cents or 0.5%.

Despite an increase from August, Chinese crude oil imports in September of 9.79 million barrels per day were 2% lower than a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday, as independent refiners slowed throughputs amid of thin margins and moderate demand. read more

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“The recent recovery in oil imports faltered in September,” ANZ analysts said in a note, adding that independent refiners have not taken advantage of increased quotas amid ongoing lockdowns weighing on demand.

“This was exacerbated by declining refinery margins and product export restrictions,” they said.

Uncertainty over China’s zero-COVID policy and real estate crisis loomed despite better-than-expected GDP growth in the country’s third quarter, undermining the effectiveness of growth-enhancing measures, ING analysts said in a note.

The data came a day after China’s Xi Jinping secured a landmark third term of leadership on Sunday, cementing his place as the country’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong. read more

Brent rose last week despite announcing the sale of the remaining 15 million barrels of oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserves. The sale is part of a record 180 million barrel release that began in May. Biden added that his goal would be to replenish inventories when US crude is around $70 a barrel. read more

Biden’s comments that the US will only buy crude once prices reach USD 70/barrel provide a strong level of support, ANZ said.

Last week, US energy companies added oil and natural gas platforms for the second week in a row as relatively high oil prices encourage companies to drill more, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in a report Friday.

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Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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