Brent crude oil fell to a four-year low below $80 a barrel on Thursday after Chinese data showed a slowdown in activity last month in the world’s top energy consumer and Saudi Arabia was silent about a possible cut in production.
China’s economy lost momentum in October, with factory growth dipping and investment growth hitting a near 13-year low, reinforcing expectations of a slower increase in fuel demand.
Developing economies had been a major support for oil over the past decade, but demand is now failing to keep up with increasing supply from North American shale production.
Brent crude for December, which expires on Thursday, was down by $1.51 at $78.87 a barrel by 1314 GMT after falling to an intraday low of $78.71, its lowest since September 2010. US light crude was down 40 cents at $76.78 a barrel.
“There are not many bullish factors,” said Avtar Sandu, a senior manager for commodities at Phillip Futures.
Demand for oil from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will drop to 29.2 million barrels per day (bpd) next year, almost 1 million bpd less than current output, the cartel forecast this week.
OPEC members meet in Vienna on Nov 27, when they will consider how to respond to a 30 per cent fall in oil prices over the past five months. Some have said they want a cut in output.