West Texas Intermediate crude fell to almost a three-week low on speculation that a cash crunch may restrain economic growth in China, the world’s biggest energy-consuming country.
WTI futures dropped as much 1.1 percent in New York while Brent oil traded in London dipped below $100. The People’s Bank of China said the nation should fine-tune its policies as a squeeze in the banking system risks exacerbating a slowdown. Hedge funds and other large speculators increased their net-long position on WTI crude to the highest level in almost 16 months just before a four-day market selloff began on June 19.
“There was lousy news from China last week that pushed prices lower and we’re getting more glum headlines as we start this week,” said Tom Finlon, the Jupiter, Florida-based director of Energy Analytics Group LLC. “The fundamentals are very bearish now.”
WTI crude for August delivery declined 50 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $93.19 a barrel at 9:18 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures fell as much as $1.02 to $92.67 a barrel, the lowest level since June 4. The volume of all futures traded was 8 percent below the 100-day average.
Brent oil for August settlement declined 80 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $100.11 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Volume for all contracts was 5 percent lower than the 100-day average.
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