Oil futures fell Monday, with the commodity under pressure after a round of weak China data underscored the potential damage to demand from the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. On Nymex Monday, September gasoline RBU21, -1.48% declined by 2.4% to $2.21 a gallon and September heating oil HOU21, -0.83% lost 1.8% to $2.04 a gallon.
July data out of China showed retail sales and industrial production disappointed, along with a January-to-July measure of fixed-asset investment. Meanwhile, the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul and the fall of the Afghanistan government were seen contributing to a weaker tone in financial markets but did little to add a risk premium to crude prices. Digging into the China figures, July crude-oil processing fell to 59.06 million metric tons, or 13.9 million barrels a day, the lowest since May 2020, said Carsten Fritsch, the analyst at Commerzbank. That was down 0.9% year over year, the first such negative reading since March 2020.
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