Oil Falls as China Cuts Crude Imports; OPEC Decision Weighs
NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - Oil fell by 1 percent or more on Monday on a slump in Chinese demand and worries that OPEC's decision to pump crude without restraint could prolong the current supply glut, although a weaker dollar limited losses.
China, the top net oil importer in the world, bought about a quarter less crude oil in May than it did in April, official data showed on Monday. In the oil products category, imports fell by more than 6 percent, against a 10 percent drop in exports.
Refineries in China used more crude from stockpiles last month, leading to lower imports, the data suggested. A higher number of processing plants for crude that were offline for maintenance was also cited for the lower demand.
Still, some traders said the 26 percent month-on-month drop in crude imports, based on May's arrival of 5.47 million barrels per day versus April's record 7.37 million barrels bpd, was an anomaly.
"A 4-6 percent drop is acceptable for refinery maintenance season in China, but 20 percent or more is a sign of demand collapse," said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho Securities USA.
Phil Flynn, an analyst at Chicago-based Price Futures Group, said a continuous slump in Chinese demand could be a "game changer" for oil bulls determined to see Brent futures at above $65 a barrel and U.S. crude futures at above $60 a barrel.
Brent settled down 62 cents, or 1 percent, at $62.69 a barrel.
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