Crude Oil Futures Settle Sharply Lower

Crude oil prices fell sharply on Monday due to rising concerns about the outlook for energy demand amid a surge in the delta variant of the coronavirus in several countries and on data showing signs of a slowdown in Chinese factory activity.

Oil prices were also weighed down by likely excess supply in the market following the recent OPEC+ agreement on hiking crude production.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for September ended down by $2.69 or about 3.6% at $71.26 a barrel after hitting a low of $70.55 a barrel.

Brent crude futures were down $2.61 or 3.45% at $72.80 a barrel a little while ago.

Data released Saturday by the National Bureau of Statistics showed China's official purchasing managers' index fell to 50.4 in July from 50.9 in June, adding to concerns about a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. It was the slowest figure since the index slumped to 35.7 in February 2020.

China's Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 50.3 last month from 51.3 in June, hitting the lowest level in 15 months and prompting concerns about demand.

Meanwhile, euro area manufacturing sector growth moderated in July, but the pace of expansion remained elevated, final data from IHS Markit showed.

The final factory Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 62.8 from 63.4 in June. This was the lowest reading since March.

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