Brent Crude Falls Below $100 for First Time in 14 Months

Brent crude fell below $100 a barrel for the first time since June 2013 as a slowdown in imports into China reinforced signs of surplus supply. West Texas Intermediate dropped to the lowest in almost eight months.

The global benchmark slipped as much as $1.10 a barrel in London as China’s purchases declined 2.4 percent in August, compared with a 1.6 percent drop in July, according to the Beijing-based customs administration. Libya hopes OPEC will act to curb further price declines, said a spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp.

“Demand fears will take some time to dissipate,” Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital in London, said by e-mail. “China’s slowing imports this morning did not help lift these concerns. The Atlantic basin supply glut is still in place.”

Brent for October settlement traded 80 cents lower at $100.02 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 1:16 p.m. local time. It traded earlier at $99.72 a barrel, the lowest since June 24, 2013. The European benchmark was at a premium of $7.60 to WTI. It closed at $7.53 on Sept. 5.

WTI for October delivery lost as much as 95 cents, or 1 percent, to $92.34 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest since Jan. 14.

Property Slump

Oil markets in the U.S. and Europe face a glut amid constrained consumption and the recovery of supplies from Libya, according to the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based adviser to 29 nations.

Growth in China, the world’s second-biggest oil consumer, will drop to 7.4 percent this year, the weakest pace since 1990, according to economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg. It will slide to 7.2 percent in 2015.

The nation’s imports fell for a second month as a property slump hurt domestic demand. The trade surplus climbed to a record of $49.8 billion in August as exports rose on the back of increased shipments to the U.S. and Europe.

Money managers reduced net-long positions in West Texas Intermediate futures in the seven days to Sept. 2, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. Bullish bets on Brent crude dropped to the lowest in 2 years.

Libyan Supply

Libya, holder of Africa’s biggest crude reserves, is pumping 740,000 barrels a day, National Oil Corp. spokesman Mohamed Elharari said by phone from Tripoli. That compares with a monthly average of 400,000 a day in July.

“The price decline comes as Libya is trying to reenter the market,” Elharari said. “It is important that fellow OPEC states like Saudi Arabia take measures to preserve the price of the barrel.”

Brent’s decline below $100 will probably trigger further losses because prices are currently more sensitive to bearish news and disregard threats to supply across the Middle East and North Africa, according to Commerzbank AG.

“The market appears at present to be deaf in one ear,” Carsten Fritsch, a Frankfurt-based analyst at the bank, said in a report. “The price slide is also speculatively driven to a major extent. We see little justification for the massive increase in pessimism in view of the many geopolitical risks to the supply of oil.”

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