Oil falls on weak Chinese data, forecasts for U.S. crude stocks build

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Monday after four days of gains as expectations U.S. crude stockpiles will rise and worries about weak Chinese industrial data offset hopes oil demand will increase if talks progress on a Sino-American trade deal.

FILE PHOTO: An oil pump is seen just after sunset outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Brent futures fell 45 cents, or 0.7%, to $61.57 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 85 cents, or 1.5%, to $55.81.

Earlier in the session, Brent and WTI both climbed to their highest levels in a month, hitting $62.34 and $56.92, respectively.

“The energy complex came out of the gate underperforming our expectations as it appears that another significant build in Cushing supply could be forthcoming,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Illinois, said in a report.

After building for three weeks in a row, U.S. crude oil stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for WTI, have risen by about 1.5 million barrels in the week through Oct. 25, traders said, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape.

Total U.S. crude inventories were forecast to have increased by around 700,000 barrels last week, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

Profits at Chinese industrial companies, meanwhile, fell for the second straight month in September as producer prices continued to slide, highlighting the impact of a slowing economy and protracted U.S. trade war on corporate balance sheets.

Ritterbusch said the negative Chinese economic data was likely already baked into prices and was offset by optimism regarding the success of U.S.-Chinese trade talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he expected to sign a significant part of a trade deal with China ahead of schedule but did not elaborate on the timing.

“We are looking probably to be ahead of schedule to sign a very big portion of the China deal, we’ll call it Phase One but it’s a very big portion,” he told reporters.

The news comes as a relief to investors who have been grappling with the fallout from the trade war and its impact on the global economy. Analysts say an agreement would provide a boost to global oil demand.

“Looking further ahead, if trade talks continue to progress, and we see full agreement to phase 1 of the deal, this should help to improve sentiment further,” ING analyst Warren Patterson said.

Russia’s energy ministry said that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its oil-exporting allies, known as OPEC+, would factor in any slowdown of U.S. oil output growth when they meet to discuss their output agreement in December.

However, Russian Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Sorokin said it was premature to talk about deeper production cuts.

U.S. crude output has surged to records above 12 million barrels per day this year, thanks to gains from the Permian basin that have made the United States the world’s largest producer ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The rate of growth has, however, been tempered as U.S. energy companies reduced the number of oil rigs in October for a record 11 months, under pressure from investors to cut spending on new drilling.

GRAPHIC: U.S. Rig count -

OPEC+ has since January implemented a deal to cut output by 1.2 million bpd to support the market. The pact runs to March 2020 and the producers meet to review policy on Dec. 5-6.

“We are of the view that an extension of current cuts is path of least resistance for the producer group, while deeper cuts will be far more difficult to agree on,” Harry Tchilinguirian, global oil strategist at BNP Paribas in London said.

Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Evans