The price of oil hovered below $92 a barrel fell Monday as Chinese economic indicators did little to raise hopes for a rebound in the world's second-largest economy.
By afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for November delivery was down 11 cents to $91.75 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Benchmark oil fell 21 cents Friday to settle at $91.86 per barrel on the Nymex.
Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, added 57 cents to $115.19 per barrel in London.
Trade data released Saturday showed Chinese imports revived slightly from the previous month's contraction but grew by only 2.4 percent, suggesting a recovery has yet to take hold. Inflation eased in September, the government said Monday, but analysts doubted this would spur authorities to step up efforts to stimulate the economy.
China's economic growth fell to a three-year low of 7.6 percent in the quarter ending in June, and analysts expect growth to decline further to about 7.3 percent when the latest quarter's figures are reported this week.
On Friday, the International Energy Agency issued a new report predicting slower growth in demand for oil over the next five years. It cited the sluggish global economy and growing energy efficiency. The agency also forecast that supplies will increase, in part because U.S. production from shale formations is exceeding expectations.
"The world remains short of oil demand while the oversupply of oil continues. Global inventories are building and barring a sharp turnaround from China or any of the other major oil growth areas of the world, demand currently looks like it is going to lag supply," wrote Dominick Chirichella of CME Group in a market commentary.
Oil received some support from supply risks tied to the civil war in Syria, but analysts speculated that premium could vanish soon.
"The current conflict between Turkey and Syria has prompted markets to remain edgy because of its potential threat to disrupt oil supply and worsen underlying tensions," said a report from KBC Energy Economics in London. "Bearish sentiment deriving from the ever worsening economic crisis in the eurozone, downgrades in oil demand and a weakening global economy has been partly offset by these geopolitical concerns."
"Once the markets realize that this latest geopolitical issue has no threat to curtail actual oil supplies, we expect prices will fall back," KBC concluded.
In other energy trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:
_ Heating oil added 0.29 cent to $3.2268 per gallon.
_ Wholesale gasoline dropped 1.48 cents to $2.799 per gallon.
_ Natural gas fell 5.9 cents to $3.552 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.