Oil prices fell by about 1% on Tuesday after data showed China’s crude imports and exports fell much more than expected in July in yet another sign of a sluggish post-COVID rebound for the world’s largest oil importer.
Brent crude futures were down 78 cents, or 0.9%, at $84.56 a barrel at 11:09 a.m. EDT (1509 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 81 cents, or about 1%, to $81.13. Both contracts fell by $2 earlier in the session.
China’s July oil imports were down 18.8% from the previous month to the lowest daily rate since January, but still up 17% from a year earlier.
Overall, China’s imports contracted by 12.4% in July, far steeper than the expected 5% drop. Exports fell by 14.5%, compared with a fall of 12.5% tipped by economists.
In India, fuel consumption slipped to a 10-month low in July, government data showed on Tuesday, as monsoon rains restricted mobility. India is the third-biggest oil importer and consumer.
Despite the gloomy data, some analysts were still positive on China’s fuel demand outlook for August to early October.
The peak season for construction and manufacturing activity starts in September and gasoline consumption should benefit from summer travel demand, said CMC Markets analyst Leon Li. Demand is expected to decrease gradually after October, he added.