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Crude down in Asia on China demand fears
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) Oct 14, 2011

Oil prices fell on demand fears in Asia Friday after a weak batch of trade data from China, the world's biggest energy user, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, fell 11 cents to $84.12 per barrel and Brent North Sea crude for December delivery dipped a cent to $111.10.

"Crude oil imports into China, one of the largest engines of demand growth, dropped 12 percent in September from last years record high and were below five million barrels per day for the fourth consecutive month," said Ker Chung Yang, commodity analyst from Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Bearish figures from China showed its trade surplus falling for the second consecutive month in September, to $14.51 billion, as exports slowed sharply, hit by economic turmoil in the United States and Europe.

Meanwhile, falling crude prices were cushioned by encouraging data from the US Department of Energy showing surprisingly large drawdowns in gasoline and distillate stockpiles in the world's biggest oil consumer.

The US government's latest report showed gasoline stockpiles dipping 4.1 million barrels, 40 times more than analysts' prediction. Distillates, which include diesel and heating fuel, fell by 2.9 million barrels, compared with an estimated 400,000 barrels.

Crude reserves, however, rose by 1.3 million barrels to 336.7 million in the week ending October 7.

"The drawdown in gasoline and distillates stockpiles helps to cushion the decline in oil prices as it shows consumers are still buying," Ker added.

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