Investing.com-- Oil prices moved little in Asian trade on Monday before a key interest rate decision in top importer China, while an upcoming meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was squarely in focus.
Prices were nursing four straight weeks of losses, hit by fears of worsening demand, and as data, particularly from the U.S. and the OPEC, suggested that supplies were not as tight as initially expected.
Brent oil futures fell slightly to $80.55 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures were flat at $76.00 a barrel by 20:05 ET (01:05 GMT).
Data released last week showed a bigger-than-expected increase in U.S. oil inventories, while production also remained close to record-high levels. This was coupled with signs that OPEC producers other than Saudi Arabia and Russia had increased crude production in recent months.
Weak economic data from several major economies ramped up concerns that global oil demand will slow in the coming months.
This trend put an upcoming interest rate decision in China squarely in focus, as the world’s largest oil importer struggles to shore up economic growth.
The People’s Bank of China is widely expected to keep its loan prime rate at record lows on Monday, as it continues with its liquidity injections aimed at supporting the economy.
While Chinese oil imports have remained steady over the past year, worsening economic conditions in the country have raised doubts over whether oil demand will remain strong. China has also built up a high level of oil inventories, and recently placed stricter curbs on local refineries.
The country is also grappling with a prolonged slowdown in its property market, which is a major driver of the economy.
Saudi, Russian supply cuts in focus as OPEC meeting looms
Media reports suggested that Saudi Arabia and Russia were considering more supply cuts after a recent decline in oil prices, especially after Brent recently sank back below $80 a barrel.
The two major producers have vowed to continue their supply cuts until the end of the year, and are now expected to announce more reductions at an OPEC meeting on Nov. 26.
Supply cuts from Saudi Arabia and Russia had been a key point of support for oil prices, pushing Brent to nearly $100 a barrel earlier this year. But gains had failed to hold, amid a string of negative cues for the market.