By Luke Kawa at Bloomberg
When looking for the prime culprit behind widespread weakness in commodity prices, fingers often point squarely at China.
On the supply side, especially in select metals, the world's second-largest economy deserves a hefty portion of the blame for the rout.
But in the case of crude, China has responded to lower prices with a jump in demand, says Barclays' Commodities Analyst Miswin Mahesh. Although, as he notes, there are signs that this increased appetite may soon wane.
In November, implied oil demand contracted by 2 percent relative to the same period in the previous year, the first such decline since July 2014.
Demand for gasoline remains solid, the analyst notes, but the moderation in the 'old' industrial segments of the economy has dampened the use of diesel.
The moderation in China's economic expansion entails a decrease in the rate of—and sheer size of—demand growth this year, according to Barclays.
From 2011 through 2014, implied year-over-year oil demand growth averaged 361,000 barrels per day, according to Mahesh.
As Morgan Stanley sees crude falling to $20 per barrel on U.S. dollar appreciation, it's troubling to imagine how bad things could get in the event that the magnitude of the slowdown in Chinese demand growth is larger than Barclays anticipates.