Brent oil hits four-year low below $80, awaits OPEC

Brent crude oil fell to a four-year low below $80 a barrel on Thursday after Chinese data showed a further slowdown in activity in the world’s biggest energy consumer and Saudi Arabia remained silent about a possible cut in production.

China’s economy lost momentum in October, with factory growth dipping and investment growth hitting a near 13-year low, reinforcing expectations of a slower increase in fuel demand from the major emerging nations.

Developing economies have been a major support for oil over the last decade, but their fuel demand is now failing to keep up with increasing supply from North American shale production, which is eating into the traditional market for Middle East oil.