Oil prices continue to fall amid China market worries


SINGAPORE — Oil prices fell further Monday on persistent worries about China’s growth slowdown and a supply glut, but analysts said tensions between producer giants Iran and Saudi Arabia could provide some support. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery was down 65 cents at US$32.51 by 0600 GMT, while Brent was down 75 cents at US$32.80. Both contracts slid about 10 percent last week to 12-year lows as global markets were hammered by concerns about China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, which overshadowed a strong U.S. jobs report.

“Sentiment indicators are all to the extreme sell,” Michael McCarthy, a chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, told Bloomberg News. “Until we see a supply-side response, the potential for significantly higher prices is low.” Sanjeev Gupta, head of the Asia-Pacific Oil and Gas practice at professional services organization EY in Singapore, said: “Rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran could support the upswing of oil prices in the short term.” But he added that oil markets would be closely tracking new economic data from Europe and China, and “further signs of a slowdown will put further downward pressure on the price of crude.” On Sunday top Arab diplomats rallied behind Saudi Arabia in a dispute with Iran that has threatened to derail efforts to resolve Middle East conflicts including the war in Syria. The row between the two major oil producers erupted on Jan. 2 after Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric along with 46 others on terrorism charges.