Commodities

Brent crude oil extends losses; US prices up on summer demand

Reuters SINGAPORE | Updated on January 23, 2018

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Brent oil prices dropped on Tuesday on signs of weakness at the world's top energy consumer China, while US crude futures edged up on rising demand ahead of the summer driving season.

Brent futures were down 9 cents at $66.18 a barrel by 0413 GMT, after an almost 1 per cent fall on Monday on near-record Saudi exports. Data showing China's new home prices fell for an eighth consecutive month in April from a year earlier also continued to drag on prices.

Some analysts said the China data indicated a property downturn was bottoming out. But others said any recovery will take time given a huge inventory of unsold homes, adding the property sector remains the biggest risk to the world's No.2 economy, which looks set for its worst year in 25 years.

Asian economies miss out

Low oil prices, that have plunged by around 50 per cent since their peak in June 2014, have also failed to spur growth in Asia, analysts said.

"The trouble is there are no signs that growth is benefiting from lower oil prices. By now, demand should have started to strengthen. Instead, the first quarter probably represented a new low in the region's growth since the global financial crisis," HSBC said, adding that "this hints at broader, structural factors weighing on Asia's growth".

Further weighing on oil prices were supplies from top exporter Saudi Arabia, which shipped out 7.898 million barrels per day in March, the highest in almost a decade.

US crude prices edge up

In the United States, crude prices edged up 6 cents to $59.49 a barrel on rising demand ahead of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

More US drivers will hit the roads this Memorial Day holiday than in the past decade, fuelled by a growing economy and low gasoline prices, the nation's largest motorists' advocacy group said earlier in May.

AAA expected 37.2 million people would journey 50 miles (80 km) or more from home during the May 21-25 period, a 4.7 per cent jump from the 35.5 million who travelled for the holiday weekend last year and the most Memorial Day-related traffic since 2005.

Published on May 19, 2015

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