Oil Slips as Focus Shifts to Demand in Coming Months
Oil prices edged lower on Monday as troubled emerging markets and trade tensions dented the outlook for fuel demand, though U.S. sanctions against Iran could mean tighter supply ahead.
Brent crude futures fell 14 cents to $72.67 a barrel by 11:18 a.m. EDT (1518 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 29 cents to $67.34 a barrel.
Futures have struggled to find a footing since Wednesday, after they fell about 3 percent as a trade dispute between the United States and China escalated further and after Chinese import data showed a slowdown in energy demand.
Turkey's financial crisis has raised the risk of contagion throughout emerging economies, dragging down South Africa's rand, Argentina and Mexico's pesos and the Russian rouble. It has also dented emerging market stocks while curbing growth and the outlook for oil demand.
That is compounding worries that a deepening trade war between the United States, China and the European Union will squeeze business activity in the world's biggest economies.
Turkey is a relatively small oil consumer, accounting for less than 1 million barrels per day (bpd), or around 1 percent of global demand. However, contagion concerns are prompting risk-off sentiment, Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.
"The energy complex is being increasingly jostled by fresh daily headlines that don't necessarily have much effect on current supply or demand on a short term basis but could dramatically affect oil balances when looking down the road just a few months," he said.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries forecast lower demand for its crude next year as rivals pump more and said top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, eager to avoid a return of oversupply, had cut production.
In a monthly report, OPEC said the world will need 32.05 million bpd of crude from its 15 members in 2019, down 130,000 bpd from last month's forecast.
Hedge funds and other money managers reduced their bullish positions in U.S. crude futures and options in the week ending Aug. 7, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed on Friday.
Despite the cautious mood in oil markets, bullish sentiment found some support from expectations that U.S. sanctions against Tehran would restrict Iranian crude exports, tightening global supply.
The United States has started implementing new sanctions against Iran, which from November will also target the country's petroleum sector.
Iran is the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq, pumping 3.65 million bpd in July, Reuters data show.
Reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York, Christopher Johnson in London and Henning Gloystein in Singapore