Oil prices fall as investors take profits amid China economy worries

Brent crude oil futures were at $61.09 per barrel at 0353 GMT, down 36 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last close


SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell on Friday as investors cashed in gains of more than 2 percent made during the previous session on concerns demand may slump amid slowing economic growth, though there are still expectations for producer supply cuts to support prices.

China, the world’s second-largest economy and the largest crude importer, on Friday, reported some of the slowest retail sales and industrial output growth in years for November, highlighting the risks of the country’s trade dispute with the United States.

Oil refinery throughput in November in China fell from October, which was the second-highest month on record, suggesting an easing in Chinese oil demand, though runs were 2.9 percent higher than a year earlier.

However, some support for prices remains because of the output cuts agreed between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers including Russia. That could create a supply deficit by the second quarter of next year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.

Brent crude oil futures were at $61.09 per barrel at 0353 GMT, down 36 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.47 per barrel, down 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement.

International benchmark Brent crude rose 2.2 percent on Thursday, while WTI climbed 2.8 percent.

For the week, however, Brent is set to drop 0.9 percent and WTI is set to fall 0.3 percent.

As a part of the OPEC, a supply-cutting deal agreed last week, its de facto leader Saudi Arabia plans to reduce its output to 10.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in January.

In China, refineries processed 50.46 million tonnes of crude oil last month, or 12.28 million bpd, up 2.9 percent from the same month last year, the National Bureau of Statistics reported.

However, that is down from October and from the record of 12.49 million bpd reported in September.

Still, for the first 11 months of the year, refinery output gained 7.2 percent to 554.48 million tonnes, or 12.12 million bpd, on track for an annual record.