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US oil settles down 63 cents, or 1.41%, at $44.00 a barrel

Crude oil fell more than 1 percent on Monday, dragged down by a tumble in gasoline prices, although data indicating the biggest draw since June at the delivery point for U.S. crude tempered some losses.

U.S. crude futures closed down 63 cents, or 1.41 percent, at $44 a barrel. Front-month Brent crude futures were down $1.70, or 3.6 percent, at $46.40 a barrel.

Gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange slumped almost 4 percent. Traders cited weakness in nearby contracts versus farther-dated ones for RBOB gasoline on NYMEX as the peak U.S. summer driving season wound to a close.

"I think this is surprising to many and catching them off guard as the trend of strong spreads in RBOB are over now," said Scott Shelton, commodities specialist at ICAP in Durham, North Carolina.

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Growth in China's investment and factory output missed forecasts in August. A recent run of weak data from the world's second-largest economy has raised the chances that third-quarter growth may dip below 7 percent for the first time since the financial crisis.


Crude futures briefly came off their lows after market intelligence firm Genscape reported a drawdown of about 1.8 million barrels last week at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point for U.S. crude, traders who saw the data said.

If confirmed, the numbers from Genscape would be the largest since the actual drawdown of 1.87 million barrels at Cushing in the week to June 19, official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed.

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Financial markets are also waiting to see whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this week for the first time in nearly a decade. Should rates rise, analysts expect oil to fall, as a stronger dollar would undermine demand from importing countries.

Earlier on Monday, oil fell after growth in China's investment and factory output missed forecasts in August. A recent run of weak data from the world's second-largest economy has raised the chances that third-quarter growth may dip below 7 percent for the first time since the financial crisis.

Oil prices have dropped almost 60 percent since June 2014 on the largest global surplus of crude in modern times amid concerns about a slowing Chinese economy.

"We think we are near the floor, but nothing precludes that we temporarily move lower," BNP Paribas global head of commodity strategy Harry Tchilinguirian told the Reuters Global Oil Forum on Monday.

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Several banks said the immediate outlook remained weak, with Goldman Sachs and Commerzbank cutting their oil price forecasts last week.

North Dakota's daily oil production fell less than 1 percent in July, state regulators said on Monday, a drop far less than many feared and one showing the state's Bakken shale formation could continue pumping high volumes of crude for the foreseeable future despite sliding prices.

Advances in technology and efficiencies have helped the productivity of each drilling rig roughly double in the past year, helping the industry do more with less.

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Highlighting that gain, the number of producing wells in North Dakota hit 12,940 in July, an all-time high.