[SINGAPORE] Oil prices were mixed in Asia Tuesday after the latest Chinese trade data showed lacklustre demand in the world's top energy consumer, analysts said.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery fell US$1.34 to US$44.71 while Brent crude for October gained 44 cents to US$48.07 in late-morning trade.
The Chinese customs administration said Tuesday overseas shipments in August fell 6.1 per cent in yuan terms from a year earlier. This compared with a fall of 8.9 per cent in July.
Imports dropped 14.3 percent, from an 8.6 percent decrease in July.
"This data just reinforces the view we are still seeing weakness in the Chinese economy and this data point suggests we have not seen a bottom yet," Bernard Aw, market strategist at IG Markets, told AFP.
"China's economy remains a worry for the wider world economy and global asset markets," he added.
The data was the first in a string of economic figures this week that will be used as a barometer of the state of the Chinese economy, the world's second-biggest and a crucial driver of global growth.
Oil prices have come under pressure from concerns that China's slowing economy will curb demand for the commodities that have helped feed its astonishing growth over the past three decades.
The devaluation of the yuan on August 11 fuelled economic fears, sparking a slump in world equities sending commodities, as measured by the Bloomberg Commodity Index of 22 raw materials, to a 16-year-low before stabilising near current levels.
Oil prices are down almost 30 per cent from this year's closing peak in May, according to Bloomberg News data.
Analysts said dealers would next scrutinise the latest weekly US petroleum report due Thursday, a day later than usual due to a holiday on Monday.
US crude reserves currently sit near an eight-decade peak due to high production levels despite tepid demand.
Dealers had been hoping that an uptick in US demand, coupled with a slowdown in output, could whittle down the huge global supplies that were a key reason for the collapse in prices from around US$120 in June last year.