Oil fell for a fifth day in New York on Monday to the lowest price in almost eight months on signs of an economic slowdown in the US and China. London-traded Brent crude dropped from the lowest close in more than a year. Futures dropped as much as 2.3 per cent to the lowest intra-day price since October 6, extending last week’s 8.4 per cent decline after US unemployment rose and payrolls increased less than the most-pessimistic forecasts. China’s purchasing managers’ index for non-manufacturing industries fell to the lowest level in a year, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said on Sunday in Beijing. European leaders remain divided on solutions for the region’s debt crisis. “We’re very, very negative on the outlook for oil demand this year,” Johannes Benigni, managing director of JBC Energy GmbH, a researcher in Vienna, said in an interview with Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg Television’s On the Move. Crude consumption will undergo a “significant contraction” in advanced economies even as demand grows in Asia and the Middle East, he said. “Economic indicators are not looking great.” Oil for July delivery fell as much as $1.91 (Dh7) to $81.32 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $81.51 at 9.47am in London. Prices slid 3.8 per cent on June 1, capping the biggest weekly drop since Sept. 23. Oil is 17 per cent lower this year. Brent futures for July settlement were at $97.12 a barrel, down 2.3 per cent, on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London. The European benchmark closed June 1 at the lowest level since January 2011 after falling below $100 for the first time since October. The contract’s premium to New York-traded crude was $14.67 on Monday, compared with $15.20 on June 1. ‘Kicks away at foundations’ China’s purchasing managers’ index for non-manufacturing industries decreased to 55.2 in May from 56.1 in April. That’s the lowest reading since March 2011, when the federation started seasonally adjusting the data. A Chinese manufacturing index signalled the weakest reading in five months in May, the data showed last week. In the US, payrolls climbed by 69,000 last month, the Labour Department said June 1. The median projection called for a 150,000 May advance, according to a Bloomberg News survey of 87 economists. The jobless rate rose to 8.2 per cent from 8.1 per cent and has exceeded 8 per cent since February 2009, the longest such stretch since monthly records began in 1948. “When we see weak numbers in China and very weak job numbers in the US, it kicks away at the foundations,” said Michael McCarthy, a chief market strategist at CMC Markets Asia Pacific Pty in Sydney. “If the European situation is dragging both Asia and the US into a contracting economic situation, then that is very bad for oil.” The price of Opec’s basket of crude oils dropped below $100 a barrel for the first time since October 5, ending the longest run in triple digits. The basket, a weighted average price of the main crude grades produced by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, was at $97.44 a barrel on June 1, data on the group’s website showed on Monday. Unity at Opec Iran will insist that Opec keep its current production ceiling for crude when oil ministers from member nations meet this month in Vienna, Iranian state-run Press TV reported on Sunday, citing Oil Minister Rostam Al Qasimi. Iraq has agreed with Iran to adopt a unified position on Opec output and emphasised the need for the group’s members to produce in line with their collective target, Press TV said in a separate report, citing a meeting between Al Qasimi and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki in Baghdad on June 2. Iran is Opec’s second-biggest producer after Saudi Arabia, which has increased supplies as US and European sanctions threaten to curb its exports. Opec produced 31.6 million barrels a day in April, five per cent more than its 30 million barrel-a-day ceiling, according to monthly estimates from its secretariat. Hedge funds cut bullish oil bets for a fourth week before futures plunged. Money managers reduced net-long positions, or wagers that oil prices will rise, to 136,584 in the week ended May 29, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Commitments of Traders report on June 1. It was the lowest level since September 2010.