Oil falls ahead of OPEC+ monitoring committee call

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LONDON (Aug 27): Oil prices fell on Monday on concerns the US-China trade dispute will erode global economic growth, and ahead of a conference call between members of a committee monitoring an OPEC and non-OPEC deal on output cuts.

International Brent crude oil futures were at US$75.49 per barrel at 0956 GMT, down 33 cents from their last close.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 32 cents at US$68.40 a barrel.

Trading activity was limited due to a public holiday in Britain, traders said.

"Falling US rig counts and last week's decline in US inventories are supporting oil prices amid a protracted US-China trade war that could dampen global growth and weigh on oil demand," said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.

US energy companies cut nine oil drilling rigs last week, taking the total to 860, the biggest reduction since May 2016, energy services firm Baker Hughes said on Friday.

Members of an OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial monitoring committee will hold a conference call later on Monday to discuss progress on their production curbs agreement.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers led by Russia agreed in June to return to 100% compliance with oil output cuts that began in January 2017.

This follows months of underproduction by Venezuela and others producers which cut output by 160% of the agreed target.

Compliance in July reached 126%, according to Reuters calculations.

UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said he expected a statement from the committee saying "the group appreciates that the overcompliance has been reduced, but reiterates that it is important to prevent an oversupplied oil market".

The committee groups Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Algeria, Venezuela and Oman.

The oil market is expected to tighten when US sanctions targeting OPEC member Iran's oil exports kick in in November.

Iran has exported around 2.5 million barrels per day of crude oil so far this year. Most analysts expect this figure to fall by at least 1 million bpd.

Hedge funds and other money managers cut their net long, or bullish, WTI futures and options positions in the week to Aug 21, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.

The speculator group cut their long positions by 15,723 contracts to 341,132 during the period.

Investors also cut their bullish Brent crude net long positions by 11,985 contracts to 324,431 over the same period.