Oil prices fall after China economic data disappoints

Pump jacks operate at sunset in Midland, Texas, U.S., February 11, 2019. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Oil prices fell on Monday after reports that China’s third-quarter economic growth did not rise as much as expected, underscoring concerns that surging COVID-19 cases globally are impacting demand in the world’s largest oil importer.

Brent crude for December LCOc1 slipped 7 cents, or 0.16%, to $42.86 a barrel by 0531 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for November CLc1 was at $40.78 a barrel, down 10 cents.

Brent rose 0.2% last week while WTI gained 0.7% after crude and oil product inventories in the United States, world’s top oil consumer, fell.

The world’s second-largest economy in the third quarter expanded by 4.9% from a year earlier, missing analyst expectations, government data showed, according to Reuters. Refiners in China, the world’s second-largest oil user, slowed their processing rates in September and industrial metal imports, underpinned by government stimulus, were lower.

The Chinese data showed growth in goods and services is softening while the data on crude processing and industrial metals output, given a lifeline from fiscal stimulus, were “disappointing”, said Howie Lee, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC).

“We’re likely going to see prices being soft for the rest of the day,” Reuters quoted Lee as saying.

OCBC’s Lee added that investors are focusing on the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) meeting of the OPEC+ group happening later on Monday.

OPEC+ consists of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and producer allies such as Russia. The JMMC may decide whether it will delay plans reduce its current supply cuts of 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2 million bpd starting in January.

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