Singapore: Oil prices were volatile in Asian trade today as equities tumbled over concerns the slowing Chinese economy could weigh on global economic growth.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for November was up seven cents to USD 44.50 and Brent crude for November added four cents to USD 47.38 in late-morning trade, but prices were swinging in positive and negative territory. “We think the prices of key commodities, such as oil and copper, are close to finding a floor, but sluggish demand growth and battles among producers for market share will keep prices under pressure for some time to come,” Barclays bank said in a market commentary. Analysts said the bearishness in equities was spilling over into the oil market, with resources firms leading a sell off in Asian stock markets today. Demand has been hit hard by a slowdown in China, the world’s top energy consuming nation, while other Asian countries have also seen their economic growth shaved.
Profits at China’s major industrial companies yesterday fell almost nine per cent in August from a year ago, the biggest decline since 2011, in the latest sign of weakness in the world’s second biggest economy. Last week, data showed that Chinese factory activity shrank at its fastest pace in six and a half years in September. “We think Asia faces a protracted ‘growth’ crisis, not a financial crisis,” US banking giant Citigroup said. As demand falters, the oil market is being rattled by the prospects of Iran exporting more crude if it complies with the terms of a deal signed in July to curb the country’s nuclear programme.