Oil prices fell to near $97 a barrel Monday in Asia after a Chinese leader predicted the world's current economic malaise will be long lasting.
Benchmark crude for January delivery was down 68 cents at $96.99 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude was down 16 cents at $107.40 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, who oversees trade and finance, said this weekend that the global economic situation is "extremely serious" and his country would focus on domestic challenges, state media reported.
"In a time of uncertainty the only thing we can be certain of is that the world economic recession caused by the international crisis will last a long time," he was quoted as saying.
The effects of slowing global demand were also evident in Japan, where exports fell for the first time in three months in October. Singapore's government, meanwhile, said it expects the island's economy to grow as little as 1 percent next year, down from a 5 percent expansion this year as export demand from developed countries wanes.
Crude has jumped from $75 on Oct. 4 on signs the U.S. will avoid a recession this year. However, oil pulled back from a near four-month high above $103 last week as weakness in the global economy came into focus.
"Oil values will continue to be jostled by broad based global economic crosscurrents but with primary focus on the euro zone probably through the rest of this year and beyond," energy consultant Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. "However, U.S. economic guidance remains positive and emerging markets still appear robust."
The International Monetary Fund in September forecast 4 percent growth for the global economy next year.
In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 1.2 cents to $3.05 per gallon and gasoline futures added 0.8 cent to $2.50 per gallon. Natural gas fell 0.3 cent to $3.31 per 1,000 cubic feet.