08 September 2014, News Wires – Brent crude oil fell below $100 a barrel for the first time in 14 months on Monday as Chinese and US data pointed to slower-than-expected growth in the world’s top oil consumers.
Weak economic growth combined with ample supply has pushed oil prices down 14% from a high for the year above $115 hit in June.
Saudi Arabia and other OPEC producers have said they prefer oil above $100. Prices below this level will put pressure on the budgets of many exporters, and could encourage some producers to pump less in an attempt to support the market.
Brent was down 86 cents at $99.96 a barrel by 1000 GMT after earlier hitting $99.88, its lowest since June 2013.
The global benchmark fell $1.01 to settle at $100.82 a barrel on Friday, recording its third weekly drop in four weeks.
US crude slipped 69 cents to $92.60 a barrel after settling at $93.29 on Friday for its sixth weekly drop in seven weeks.
The price fall followed data showing China’s import growth fell unexpectedly for the second consecutive month in August, posting its worst performance in over a year as domestic demand faltered.
It was the second straight month of weak import growth, raising concerns that tepid domestic demand exacerbated by a cooling housing market is increasingly weighing on the economy.
“The Chinese data, with imports showing disappointing results, indicates the domestic economy remains quite weak. That continues to raise concerns about the recovery of the Chinese economy,” said Victor Shum, senior partner at oil consultancy Purvin & Gertz.
Brent and US crude futures both fell on Friday after US non-farm payrolls rose by just 142,000 in August, well below a forecast 225,000, casting doubt on the pace of growth in the world’s biggest oil-consuming economy.
Investors kept an eye on geopolitical concerns in Europe and the Middle East, especially on the impact the tensions could have on European demand.
A ceasefire between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists started to fray on Sunday as shelling resumed near the port of Mariupol and fighting broke out on the outskirts of Donetsk, killing one woman and wounding four people.
The European Union is expected to implement a further round of sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis on Monday, which could target Rosneft, units of Gazprom and 24 individuals.
President Barack Obama will brief lawmakers and make a televised address this week to explain how the United States will tackle the threat posed by Islamic State militants who have overrun parts of Iraq and Syria.
Fighting flared between rival groups in Benghazi and near the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Sunday, killing at least 15 people and leading to fears the OPEC producer will become a failed state.