U.S. crude fell below $100 per barrel on Monday amid pressure from strong supplies, but losses were limited by hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve will delay curbing its money printing programme until next year, helping shore up the demand outlook.
Investors awaited the release of delayed U.S. government oil inventory data later, expecting the figures to point to increasing supply after private-sector API numbers last week showed a rise in stocks.
“We will see later today in the Department of Energy data a confirmation of the Cushing stock build,” said Olivier Jakob, analyst at Petromatrix in Zug, Switzerland, referring to stockpiles at the Oklahoma oil hub.
Investors will also scrutinise delayed U.S. payrolls data on Tuesday for further clues on demand in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Brent crude futures for December delivery slipped by 41 cents to $109.53 a barrel by 1141 GMT. Last week, the contract lost 1.2 per cent, its first weekly decline in three.
U.S. crude oil futures for November delivery fell by 85 cents to $99.96 a barrel, after rising as high as $100.95. The contract fell below $100 per barrel for the first time since July 3.
The premium of Brent crude to U.S. crude at around $9.40, was heading to its highest close since June 4, as North American crude is pressured by increasing shale oil production in the United States.
Investors face a deluge of data this week as U.S. government departments catch up after a 16-day shutdown.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration will unveil oil data for the week ended Oct. 11 at 1430 GMT. Its normal release schedule resumes after that, and oil figures for last week are due on Wednesday.
Oil prices gained support from a weaker U.S. dollar, which fell to its lowest since February on Friday on expectations the Fed will have to delay scaling back its stimulus following the U.S. government shutdown.
A weak dollar boosts oil and other commodities priced in the greenback by making them cheaper for holders of other currencies.
U.S. OIL DEMAND RISES
Oil prices were also supported after data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that oil demand in the United States rose 2.7 per cent in September compared with year-earlier levels due to the stronger economy and export demand.
This follows positive economic data from China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, where gross domestic product grew by 7.8 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier.
Saudi Arabia increased its oil exports by 325,000 barrels a day (bpd) in August from July to 7.795 million bpd, official data showed on Sunday.
The world’s largest oil exporter produced 10.19 million bpd of crude, up 156,000 bpd from July.