Oil prices fall after weak Chinese data

SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell in Asia Monday after a sharp slowdown in Chinese industrial production raised concerns about slackening demand in the world´s top energy consumer, analysts said. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery eased $96 cents to $91.31, while Brent crude for October tumbled 54 cents to $96.57 in afternoon trade.

“Oil has come off a fair bit as investors are taking in the weak Chinese industrial production data released over the weekend,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, told.

“The figure feeds into the continuing story about slowing demand in China,” he added.

China said Saturday that industrial output grew 6.9 percent last month, its weakest rate since December 2008. The key indicator slumped from 9.0 percent growth in July and was also well short of the 8.7 percent median increase in a survey of 15 economists by The Wall Street Journal.

The figures add to worries about the world´s number two economy — a key driver of world commerce — following recent indicators suggesting growth is weakening even after limited stimulus measures. McCarthy said dealers are also eyeing the impact of fresh Western sanctions on Russia for its alleged role in the Ukrainian insurgency. In punitive measures announced Friday, the United States targeted Russia´s top bank Sberbank as well as leading energy and technology companies.

Fresh European Union measures were also aimed at major Russian energy, finance, and defence companies, including, oil giant Rosneft.