Oil Down on Demand Outlook Concerns

Oil slumped as poor manufacturing figures across the globe fueled concerns that an economic slowdown may sap demand for crude. 

West Texas Intermediate fell 4.8% to settle below $94 a barrel on Monday in the first day of August trading after posting its first back-to-back monthly loss since late 2020. Weekend data indicated a surprise contraction in Chinese factory activity, highlighting the cost of mobility curbs to tackle Covid-19 outbreaks. Purchasing managers’ indexes also weakened in South Korea and the euro region’s four largest members.

The resurgence of coronavirus cases in China and the ramifications of the country’s strict pandemic strategies will continue to “negatively impact oil demand until at least November of this year, when a strategic change in Covid policy could be announced,” said Harry Altham, energy analyst for EMEA and Asia at StoneX Group.

Oil trading has been volatile in recent months as concerns about a slowdown hurt demand for commodities even as underlying signals point to a relatively tight physical market. Data last week showed that the US economy shrank for a second quarter, while the Federal Reserve hiked rates by 75 basis points.

Libya’s crude output has rebounded after a series of disruptions that more than halved supply, according to Oil Minister Mohamed Oun. Nationwide production has returned to 1.2 million barrels a day, a level last seen in early April, Oun said in a telephone interview.

Prices:

  • WTI for September delivery dropped $4.73 to settle at $93.89 a barrel in New York
  • Brent for October settlement declined $9.98 to settle at $100.03 a barrel

Fellow OPEC+ producer Russia has also seen flows disrupted as multiple buyers around the world shun its crude. Yet traders are studying the possibility of a slight increase in Russian oil exports after the European Union recently adopted a number of amendments to sanctions.

Traders will also be looking to the OPEC+ meeting later this week to set output policy for September. While the US has lobbied Saudi Arabia to loosen the taps -- raising pressure on Russia -- Moscow and Riyadh recently reaffirmed their joint commitment to a stable market.

“It is unlikely at present that the Gulf States would increase output unilaterally because of the risk of undermining OPEC’s unity and credibility,” said Altham.



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