Brent gains as China exports rise more than forecast

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Brent crude rose for the third time in four days as Chinese export data signaled foreign demand may help sustain the economy in the world’s second-biggest oil consumer. West Texas Intermediate gained in New York.

Futures climbed as much as 0.7 percent in London. Overseas shipments increased 11.6 percent from a year earlier, according to Chinese customs data on Nov. 8, exceeding the 10.6 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. last week shrank to the lowest since August, Baker Hughes Inc. said last week.

Oil has slumped into a bear market amid a global glut, slowing drilling at U.S. shale formations. Leading producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are responding by cutting prices, resisting calls to reduce supply as they compete with the highest U.S. output in three decades.

“It could be taken as a lead that, with exports increasing, demand will follow,” Michael McCarthy, a chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said by phone. “Rising supply is the key issue for the market.”

Brent for December settlement rose as much as 56 cents to $83.95 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange and was at $83.65 at 3:41 p.m. Singapore time. Prices slid for a seventh week through Nov. 7, the longest run of declines since November 2001, and are 25 percent lower this year. The volume of all futures traded was 25 percent above the 100-day average.

WTI for December delivery was at $78.83 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 18 cents. Prices have lost 20 percent this year. The contract is at a discount of $4.80 to Brent, compared with $6 a week ago.

China’s imports rose 4.6 percent, compared with projections of 5 percent, the customs administration said. The nation will account for about 11 percent of world oil demand this year, compared with 21 percent for the U.S., according to the International Energy Agency.

In the U.S., rigs seeking oil sank by 14 to 1,568, the lowest since Aug. 22, Baker Hughes Inc. said. The Eagle Ford shale formation in south Texas lost the most, dropping nine to 197. The national count is down from a peak of 1,609 on Oct. 10.

Executives at several large U.S. shale producers, including Chesapeake Energy Corp. and EOG Resources Inc., have vowed to maintain or even raise production as they reported earnings last week. They say their success in bringing down costs means they can make money even if prices slump further.

Libya, holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves, is resuming output at its biggest oil field even as operations at some export terminals are disrupted.

The Sharara and Elephant fields in southwestern Libya will resume output after gunmen returned equipment they had stolen from the sites, state-run National Oil Corp. spokesman Mohamed Elharari said by telephone from Tripoli yesterday. Crude shipments from the Hariga terminal remain halted, said Ihab Said, an inspector at the facility.

Two other export ports, Es Sider and Mellitah, were shut last week because of bad weather, three traders with knowledge of the matter said Nov. 7. Loadings at Hariga were affected by worker strikes, according to two traders.

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