Oil inches down, weak China trade data drags
TOKYO – Brent and US crude futures edged lower on Monday as the dollar regained ground and as weak Chinese trade data stoked concerns about demand in the world’s biggest energy consumer.
But the market held most of its gains of more than 10 percent from Friday that came amid renewed talk that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) might finally agree to cut output to reduce a world glut.
The mood inside OPEC is shifting from mistrust to a growing consensus that a decision must be reached on how to end the global oil price rout, Nigeria’s oil minister said, adding he will have talks with his Saudi and Qatari counterparts.
“We continue to believe that if prices were to be artificially supported with production cuts; it would only give more expensive forms of production more room to breathe and would only solve the problem in the short term,” Daniel Ang at Phillip Futures said in a note.
China’s exports fell 11.2 percent in January from a year earlier and imports tumbled 18.8 percent, both far worse than expected. China’s crude imports dropped 20 percent from record high volumes the previous month.
London Brent crude for April delivery LCOc1 was down 17 cents at $33.19 a barrel by 0427 GMT, hurt by a strong dollar helped by a bounce in US consumer spending. The oil contract jumped $3.30 on Friday after the United Arab Emirates’ energy minister was quoted as saying that OPEC members are ready to cooperate on an output cut.
NYMEX crude for March delivery CLc1 was down 18 cents at $29.26 a barrel, after rebounding more than $3 in the previous session from Thursday’s 12-year low. There will be no settlement on Monday for US crude due to the Presidents Day holiday, and trading may be thinner than usual.
Iran is exporting 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, and will be pumping 1.5 million bpd by the start of the next Iranian year on March 20, a vice-president was quoted as saying on Saturday.
Iran will load 4 million barrels of crude oil on tankers destined for Europe in the coming 24 hours, a senior official was quoted as saying on Saturday. Japan’s economy contracted an annualised 1.4 percent in the final quarter of last year, data showed on Monday. -Reuters