Oil prices down over demand concerns in China

<p><em>(Photo from Anadolu) </em></p>

(Photo from Anadolu) 

ISTANBUL – Oil prices decreased on Monday amid concerns over the demand outlook in China, the world's biggest crude importer, following data released last week.

International benchmark Brent crude traded at USD81.97 per barrel at 10.28 a.m. local time (0728GMT) for a 0.13 percent decline from the closing price of USD82.08 a barrel in the previous trading session.

The American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) traded at USD77.81 per barrel at the same time, a 0.26 percent fall from the previous session that closed at USD78.01 per barrel.

Prices started the week on a negative note due to bearish Chinese data that signaled softer demand in the world's largest crude importer and second-biggest oil consumer.

Data last week showed Chinese consumer inflation rose marginally in February, benefiting from increased spending during the Lunar New Year holiday; however, producer price inflation shrank more than expected during the period.

Imports of crude oil in China climbed 5.1 percent in the first two months of the year compared to last year but were weaker than the preceding months.

The country set an economic growth target of about 5 percent for 2024, which, if achieved, would likely boost fuel consumption, but experts cautioned that it would be harder to achieve than in 2023.

Moreover, mixed signals from macroeconomic data announced in the US, the world's largest oil consumer and producer, also pressured oil prices.

Data last week showed US job growth accelerated in February, while the unemployment rate increased to a two-year high.

Markets are now squarely focused on the key US consumer price index due on Tuesday for more cues on the path the Fed will take on interest rates.

Meanwhile, supply factors stemming from major producers reducing output and escalating geopolitical tensions over the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Russia-Ukraine war limited the fall in oil prices. (Anadolu)