* Chinese exports fell unexpectedly in September
* China's crude imports hit record high
* U.S. consumer confidence falls
By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
SINGAPORE, Oct 14 Brent futures edged lower
towards $111 per barrel on Monday after an unexpected decline in
China's exports, with a looming deadline to get an increase in
the U.S. debt ceiling adding to worries about the outlook for
Weekend talks to avert a U.S. debt default showed signs of
progress on Sunday, but there were still no guarantees that a
government shutdown was about to end or that default would be
Underscoring the urgency of resolving the impasse, both the
Senate and House of Representatives are scheduled to be in
session on Monday, even though it is the Columbus Day federal
"Default is unlikely to happen, in our view. But if there's
no deal over the next few days, it will definitely cause some
downward pressure on oil as market confidence weakens," said
Chee Tat Tan, an investment analyst at Phillip Futures in
"We think a steep decline is unlikely, because oil will
still be supported by winter demand for heating oil in the
United States and a weak dollar," said Tan.
Brent futures fell 4 cents to $111.24 per barrel as of 0310
GMT. The benchmark has gained $3.30 in the two weeks since the
U.S. government partially shut down on Oct. 1.
U.S. oil was down 16 cents at $101.86. The contract has lost
18 cents since Oct. 1, widening the gap between the two
benchmarks to $9.38 per barrel.
Failing to raise the debt ceiling would leave the world's
biggest economy unable to pay its bills in coming weeks.
In a sign that the government shutdown has undermined
Americans' outlook on the economy, consumer sentiment in the
United States deteriorated in October to its weakest in nine
months, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary
reading showed on Friday.
An unexpected decline in Chinese exports in September also
weighed on oil prices. Exports dropped an annual 0.3 percent in
September versus market forecasts of a rise of 6 percent,
reflecting weak global demand and defying a recent slew of data
that pointed to a stabilising Chinese economy.
Nevertheless, data released over the weekend showed China's
imports of crude oil rebounded in September to a record high.
Average imports of crude in September stood at 6.25 million
barrels per day, up 28 percent on the year and topping the
previous record of 6.15 million bpd set in July.
Chinese GDP data will be released on Friday.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
has no plans to either increase or decrease output when the
cartel meets in December, UAE energy minister Suhail bin
Mohammed al-Mazroui said on Sunday.
"There is no sign or something that we can tell you today to
say we are increasing or decreasing the quota," Mazroui told
Reuters. "But what is certain is we will ensure the market is
(Reporting By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Alan