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Crude oil futures trend lower amid macroeconomic headwinds

Singapore — Crude oil futures were lower during mid-morning trade in Asia Monday, pressured by lingering fears of a global economic slowdown, despite some support seen for supply-side fundamentals.

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At 10:45 am Singapore time (0245 GMT), ICE May Brent crude futures were down 55 cents/b (0.82%) from last Friday's settle at $66.48/b, while the NYMEX May light sweet crude contract was 56 cents/b (0.95%) lower at $58.48/b.

"Asian markets may open lower this morning and continue to consolidate today amid perceived growth brakes for the global economy," OCBC analysts said in a note Monday.

"Global risk appetite retreated on Friday, with market concerns about a potential US recession re-emerging after the 3-month to 10-year UST yield curve inverted for the first time since 2007, notwithstanding the Fed's dovish signals earlier last week," the analysts added.

Amongst the latest economic data, IHS Markit's March Purchasing Manufacturing Index released last Friday showed a larger-than-expected contraction in Germany's manufacturing sector, which dropped to a 79-month low of 44.7. The March US PMI also edged down to 52.3 down from 53 in February. While still indicating an expansion in US manufacturing activity, the sector PMI was at a 21-month low.

Weak economic data out of Europe comes on the heels of the US Federal Open Market Committee lowering its 2019 GDP view for the US economy to 2.1% from 2.3% last Wednesday, alongside a steeper drop for 2020 to 1.9%. At the same meeting, the the committee suggested that it would be holding interest rates flat until 2020, a move designed to support market liquidity.

Still, a further drop in oil prices was capped by some upside potential in weekly US oil rig data. Baker Hughes data published Friday showed the US oil rig count was down for the fifth consecutive week, declining by 9 to 824 for the week ended March 22. The total active US rig count was also down 10 to 1,016, the data showed.

"Crude oil prices had been well supported by promises from OPEC that it would increase production cuts and ongoing issues in Venezuela and Iran," ANZ analysts said in a note Monday.

However, they added that concerns on slowing economic growth "overshadowed the supply-side issues that emerged earlier in the week."

As of 0245 GMT, the US Dollar Index was up 0.01% at 96.125.

--Jin Ming Lim, jinming.lim@spglobal.com

--Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy.wells@spglobal.com