Oil drops as weak China factory data fan demand concerns

Oil prices dropped on Monday, as weak manufacturing data from China and Japan for July weighed on the outlook for demand, while investors braced for this week’s meeting of officials from OPEC and other top producers on supply adjustments.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 82 cents, or 0.8%, at $103.15 a barrel at 0608 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 was at $97.44 a barrel, down $1.18, or 1.2%, Reuters reports.

Fresh Covid-19 lockdowns snuffed out a brief recovery seen in June for factory activity in China, the world’s largest crude oil importer. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) eased to 50.4 in July from 51.7 in the previous month, well below analysts’ expectations, data showed on Monday.

Japanese manufacturing activity expanded at its weakest rate in 10 months in July, data showed on Monday. Read full story

“China’s disappointing manufacturing PMI is the primary factor that pressed on oil prices today,” CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng said.

“The data shows a surprising contraction of economic activities, suggesting that the recovery of the world-second-largest economy from the covid lockdowns may not be as positive as previously expected, which darkened the demand outlook of the crude oil markets.”

Brent and WTI ended July with their second straight monthly losses for the first time since 2020, as soaring inflation and higher interest rates raise fears of a recession that would erode fuel demand.

ANZ analysts said fuel sales to drivers in Britain were waning, while gasoline demand remained below its five-year average for this time of the year.

Reflecting this, analysts in a Reuters poll reduced for the first time since April their forecast for 2022 average Brent prices to $105.75 a barrel. Their estimate for WTI fell to $101.28.

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