Oil falls to 6-mth low on economic data, awaits news of Iran nuclear deal

  • EU, U.S. studying Iran's response to nuclear proposal
  • U.S. housing starts near 1-1/2-year low; factory output rebounds
  • China unexpectedly cuts key rates as economic data disappoints
  • Coming Up: API data on U.S. oil stockpiles at 4:30 p.m. ET

NEW YORK, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell about 3% on Tuesday to their lowest since before Russia's invasion of Ukraine as economic data spurred concerns about a potential global recession, while the market awaited clarity on talks to revive a deal that could allow more Iranian oil exports.

Brent crude futures fell $2.76, or 2.9%, to settle at $92.34 a barrel. The contract hit a session low of $91.71 per barrel, the lowest since Feb. 18.

West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) shed $2.88, or 3.2%, to settle at $86.53 a barrel. The benchmark fell to a session low of $85.73 per barrel, lowest since Jan. 26.

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The contracts fell about 3% in their previous sessions.

The European Union is assessing Iran's response to what the bloc has called its "final" proposal to save a 2015 nuclear deal, and consulting with the United States, an EU spokesperson said on Tuesday. read more

Iran responded to the proposal late on Monday but none of the parties provided any details.

"It is still unclear what Iran has told the European Union last night, so some tricky items might impact the outcome of the nuclear deal," UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

Weak economic indicators weighed on prices.

U.S. homebuilding fell to the lowest level in nearly 1-1/2 years in July, weighed down by higher mortgage rates and prices for construction materials, suggesting the housing market could contract further in the third quarter. read more

"Oil traders reacted because of concerns about an economic slowdown and housing uses energy," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures group. "That caught us by surprise."

China's central bank cut lending rates to try to revive demand as the nation's economy slowed unexpectedly in July after Beijing's zero-COVID policy and a property crisis slowed factory and retail activity. read more

State media quoted Premier Li Keqiang as saying that China will reasonably step up macro policy support for the economy. read more

Barclays cut its Brent price forecasts by $8 per barrel for this year and next, as it expects a large surplus of crude oil over the near-term due to "resilient" Russian supplies. read more

Market participants awaited industry data on U.S. oil inventories expected later on Tuesday. Crude and gasoline stockpiles likely fell last week, while distillate inventories rose, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.

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Reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York; Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Muyu Xu in Singapore; Editing by Barbara Lewis, Marguerita Choy and Tomasz Janowski

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Thomson Reuters

A New-York-based correspondent covering the U.S. crude market and member of the energy team since 2018 covering the oil and fuel markets as well as federal policy around renewable fuels.