Oil prices fell on Tuesday as investors weighed positive economic data from China against demand woes after Saudi Arabia cut crude prices for Asian customers.
Benchmark Brent crude futures dipped 0.4 percent to $71.92 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 1.1 percent at $68.50.
Saudi Arabia’s sharp cuts in crude contract prices for Asia sparked fears over slower demand, but data showing a strong rebound in China’s imports and exports capped losses.
Chinese exports advanced 25.6 percent year-on-year in August, bigger than the economists’ forecast of 17.1 percent and July’s 19.3 percent increase. Imports increased 33.1 percent annually after rising 28.1 percent in July. Economists had forecast an increase of 26.8 percent.
As a result, the trade balance showed a surplus of $58.34 billion, which was above the expected level of $51.05 billion.
The supply disruptions in the U.S.in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida also helped limit the downside to some extent.
According to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, 83.9 percent of the current oil production and 80.8 percent of the natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico have been shut in.