China In-Focus — Stocks down; New tax probe on independent oil refiners

LONDON: Oil prices hovered near multi-month lows on Monday as lingering worries about demand weakening on the back of a darkened economic outlook outweighed some positive economic data from China and the US.

Erasing earlier gains, Brent crude futures were down 55 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $94.37 a barrel by 1331 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude was at $88.25 a barrel, down 76 cents, or 0.9 percent.

Front-month Brent prices last week hit the lowest since February, tumbling 13.7 percent and posting their largest weekly drop since April 2020, while WTI lost 9.7 percent, as concerns about a recession hitting oil demand weighed on prices.

“Last week’s price action left no doubt that recession-driven demand concerns have the upper hand over supply fears. One could even go as far as saying the war premium has evaporated,” PVM analyst Stephen Brennock said.

Both contracts recouped some losses on Friday after jobs growth in the US, the world’s top oil consumer, unexpectedly accelerated in July.

On Sunday, China also surprised markets with faster-than-expected growth in exports.

China, the world’s top crude importer, brought in 8.79 million barrels per day of crude in July, up from a four-year low in June, but still 9.5 percent less than a year earlier, customs data showed.

In Europe, Russian crude and oil products exports continued to flow ahead of an impending embargo from the EU that will take effect on Dec. 5.

Last week, the Bank of England warned of a protracted recession in Britain.

Gasoline demand in the US continues to weaken despite falling prices at the pump, and stockpiles are rising.

In terms of US production, energy firms last week cut the number of oil rigs by the most since September in the first drop in 10 weeks.

The US clean energy sector received a boost after the Senate on Sunday passed a sweeping $430 billion bill.