Oil held losses below $45 a barrel as crude imports dropped to the lowest level in five months in China, the world’s second-biggest consumer.

Futures were little changed in New York after declining 4.9 percent last week. China’s crude imports fell to about 6.23 million barrels a day in October as demand slowed and storage tanks filled, according to data Sunday from the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs. A market surplus will continue for as long as five years as producers in the Middle East ramp up output, according to Mohammed Al-Shatti, Kuwait’s representative to OPEC.

Oil has slumped 43 percent the past year amid speculation the global oversupply will persist as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries continue to pump above their collective quota. Total exports from China, the world’s second-biggest economy, dropped in October more than all estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

West Texas Intermediate for December delivery was at $44.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 14 cents, at 8:37 a.m. Hong Kong time. The contract lost 91 cents, or 2 percent, to $44.29 on Friday, the lowest close since Oct. 27. The volume of all futures traded was about 22 percent above the 100-day average.

Brent for December settlement was 10 cents higher at $47.52 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices fell 4.3 percent last week. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $3.10 to WTI.

Source : Bloomberg