Oil prices extended last week's losses on Monday on concern about slow demand in China, although lingering geopolitical risk surrounding Western Asia and Russia limited the decline.

Iran Press/Asia: According to Reuters, Brent futures fell 12 cents, or 0.2%, to $81.96 a barrel as at 0723 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped 21 cents, or 0.2%, to $77.8. 

Both benchmarks fell last week, with Brent down 1.8% and WTI 2.5% lower on bearish Chinese data which pointed to softer demand in the world's No. 1 crude importer.

"Worries over weak demand in China outweighed the extension of supply cuts by OPEC+," said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, president of NS Trading, a unit of Nissan Securities, adding that mixed signs from U.S. jobs data prompted some traders to adjust positions.

"Still, the losses will be capped by increased geopolitical risk, with the possibility that a ceasefire may not be reached in the Gaza war and that conflict may expand in Russia and its neighbors," he said.

Data last week showed U.S. job growth accelerated in February, but a rise in the unemployment rate and moderation in wage gains kept an anticipated June interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve on the table.

China last week set an economic growth target for 2024 of around 5%, which many analysts called ambitious without much more stimulus.

China's imports of crude oil rose in the first two months of the year compared with the same period in 2023, but they were weaker than the preceding months, data showed on Thursday, continuing a trend of softening purchases by the world's biggest buyer.

On the supply side, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, agreed early this month to extend voluntary oil output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day into the second quarter.

"With OPEC+ extending its voluntary production cut agreement until the end of the second quarter, this could tighten the market as demand recovers from its seasonal lull," analysts at ANZ Research wrote in a note. 219