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Oil prices steady as Chinese demand data disappoints

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LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Monday after Chinese data showed that demand from the world’s largest crude importer remained lacklustre, but rising equities in key markets marked a brief respite from global recession fears.

Brent crude futures for December settlement were up 8 cents, or 0.1%, at $93.58 a barrel by 1356 GMT, after rising 2% last week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery was at $85.03 a barrel, down 2 cents.

Although higher than in August, China’s September crude imports of 9.79 million barrels per day were 2% below a year earlier, customs data showed on Monday, as independent refiners curbed throughput amid thin margins and lacklustre demand.

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“The recent recovery in oil imports faltered in September,” ANZ analysts said in a note, adding that independent refiners failed to utilise increased quotas as ongoing COVID-related lockdowns weighed on demand.

Uncertainty over China’s zero-COVID policy and property crisis are undermining the effectiveness of pro-growth measures, ING analysts said in a note, even though third-quarter gross domestic product growth beat expectations.

Main stock market indexes on Wall Street opened higher on Monday as Treasury yields eased on hopes of a less aggressive Federal Reserve, while stocks in the United Kingdom hit session highs as Rishi Sunak was set to become prime minister with a market-friendly fiscal programme.

Brent rose last week despite U.S. President Joe Biden announcing the sale of a remaining 15 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves, part of a record 180 million-barrel release that began in May.

Biden added that his aim would be to replenish stocks when U.S. crude is around $70 a barrel.

But bank Goldman Sachs said the stocks release was unlikely to have a large impact on prices.

“Such a release is likely to have only a modest influence (<$5/bbl) on oil prices”, the bank said in a note.

U.S. energy firms added oil and natural gas rigs last week for the second week in a row as relatively high oil prices encourage firms to drill more, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in a report.

Adttional reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Jan Harvey and David Holmes

Source - Oil prices steady as Chinese demand data disappoints

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