AFP - Oil prices eased in Asian trade on Monday as traders banked profits from gains fuelled by upbeat economic data in top global energy consumer China, analysts said.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in September, was down seven cents to US$105.90 (S$133.14) a barrel in mid-morning Asian trade and Brent North Sea crude for September shed 25 US cents to US$107.97.
"We are seeing a bit of profit-taking in crude prices after the solid gains made over the positive Chinese data last week," Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, told AFP.
WTI crude had jumped US$1.15 in New York trade Friday after China announced that its industrial growth accelerated in July to a five-month high of 9.7 per cent year-on-year. Brent rose 75 US cents in London trade.
Other figures, including steady expansion in retail sales and fixed asset investment, pointed to a more stable outlook for China's economy - seen as a key driver of global growth - after months of mounting pessimism.
The United States government's Energy Information Administration last week forecast that China would overtake the US as the world's top net oil importer by 2014, fuelled by steady demand growth in the Asian economic powerhouse.
"This may not be a surprise given the growth in China's consumption over the past decade, but it is still a significant shift in the focus of crude performance," Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, said in a note.