Crude oil prices hit three-month low points on Monday as dealers awaited long-delayed US economic data for clues about the health of the world's largest crude consumer, analysts said.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in November, dropped to $99.77 a barrel - the lowest level since early July.
It later stood at $99.95, down 86 cents compared with Friday's close.
Brent North Sea crude for December dropped 33 cents to stand $109.61 a barrel in midday London trading on Monday.
“The US inventory data may be able to shake the oil market out of its lethargic state this afternoon when the US Department of Energy releases the figures for crude oil and oil product stocks that were not published last week because of the US budgetary dispute,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.
A slew of US data delayed by the 16-day US government shutdown will be released this week.
The US September jobs report out on Tuesday will be particularly in focus as investors try to get an idea of when the Federal Reserve will start to reel in its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying scheme.
The stimulus programme has been credited with fuelling a global equities rally for most of the year. The Fed said in September that it would not wind down the programme if there was no broad improvement in the economy.
“The US economic data that came out before the shutdown was quite lacklustre, and people will be watching this week's numbers to see whether they should go back into risk assets,” Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore, told AFP.
SDBS Bank warned investors not to brush off the US figures out this week solely because they are outdated.
“This would be a mistake,” it said in a note to clients. “The shutdown didn't do the economy any favours but the US had plenty of problems in the run-up to October.”
It added: “The September data are no less relevant today than they would have been two weeks ago, government shutdown notwithstanding.” -Sapa-AFP