Investing.com - Crude oil futures declined on Monday, amid growing indications the Chinese economy could be running out of steam.
The Asian nation is the world''s second largest oil consumer after the U.S. and has been the engine of strengthening demand.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April fell to a session low of $101.07 a barrel, before trimming losses to last trade at $101.31 during European morning hours, down 1.25%, or $1.26.
The April contract rose 1%, or $1.02 a barrel, on Friday to settle at $102.58.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $100.13 a barrel, the low from March 6 and resistance at $102.91 a barrel, the high from March 7.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for April delivery slumped 0.9%, or $0.96 cents, to trade at $108.04 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at $6.73 a barrel.
Data released over the weekend showed that Chinese exports collapsed 18.1% in February from a year earlier, disappointing expectations for a 6.8% increase.
Imports rose 10.1%, compared to forecasts for an 8% increase. According to customs data, China''s February crude oil imports totaled 23.05 million metric tons, down 18.1% from January.
The significant decline in China’s exports led to a deficit of $22.98 billion last month, compared to a surplus of $31.86 billion in January. Analysts had expected a surplus of $14.5 billion in February.
A separate report showed that consumer price inflation in China rose 2% in February from a year earlier, in line with expectations, while producer price inflation declined 2%, compared to forecasts for a 1.9% drop.
The data added to fears over a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy, and overshadowed last Friday’s stronger-than-forecast U.S. jobs report for February.
The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in February, the Labor Department reported, well above expectations for 149,000 new jobs.
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