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.
“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.