China's implied oil demand in April dropped to a six-month low and posted its first yearly decline in at least three years, as a sputtering economy and high crude prices combined to squeeze the appetite of the world's second-largest oil consumer.
The official data released, including lower than expected industrial output data, softening retail sales and easing prices, also suggests China's economic headwinds might be stiffer than thought and it was becoming more vulnerable to a global slowdown and a credit crunch at home.
With China being a key demand driver, a sustained slowdown could threaten oil prices, especially when global supplies are abundant this year.
Implied oil demand in the world's second largest oil consumer fell 0.5 per cent in April from a year earlier to 9.31 million barrels per day (bpd), a volume which was the lowest since October 2011, according to Reuters calculations based on preliminary government data.
Daily demand was 130,000 bpd, or 1.4 per cent lower than the 9.44 mbpd in March, Reuters figures showed.
In its most recent report the International Energy Agency forecast China's oil demand to grow 4.1 per cent, or 390,000 bpd, this year, which meant China would still account for nearly half of the global incremental demand in 2012.
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